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Biden asks Saudi Arabia to produce more oil but no announcement yet

Biden asks Saudi Arabia to produce more oil but no announcement yet

Posted July. 18, 2022 07:59,   

Updated July. 18, 2022 07:59


U.S. President Joe Biden, who criticized the world’s largest oil producer Saudi Arabia’s human rights suppression, visited the country for the first time since his inauguration to break away from the inflation crisis from high oil price but failed to get a desired answer. Criticisms are strong over such move by Biden who placed efforts with his relationship with Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman known to be behind the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi of fist bumping. It turned out to be shameful, however, with no results as Saudi Arabia drew a line saying, “There were no discussions over an increase of oil production” and even criticized the human rights suppression of the U.S.

On Friday, President Biden met with Prince Mohammed bin Salman in one of Saudi’s top two cities of Jeddah. Between his four days of Middle East visit from July 13, Biden hugged other Middle Eastern leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, but he only shared fist bumps with Prince Mohammed bin Salman owing to Covid-19. This is interpreted as an action of being conscious of the criticism in the U.S. before his Middle East visit of “Holding hands with the cruel dictator,” owing to Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s approval of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 when he was killed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

After the meeting, President Biden stated in the press conference, “Saudi Arabia will take actions to increase oil supply in a few weeks.” On Saturday, however, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan refuted, saying, “There were no discussions over an increase in oil supply.” Furthermore, he said that he is not aware of any discussions on joint defense alliance against the Iranian threats. Particularly, CNN reported that during the meeting between the two leaders, Prince Mohammed bin Salman countered with the abuse of prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison by U.S. military personnel and hit back at President Biden on human rights. As a result, criticisms are building up in the U.S. Fred Ryan, CEO of The Washington Post for which Jamal Khashoggi worked for, rebuked, saying, “President’s fist bump is shameful. Prince Mohammed bin Salman will offer the unfair salvation.”

To make matters worse, analysis has it that President Biden will lose grounds even further as it becomes difficult to pass Carbon Neutrality and Green Growth Act for the Climate Change in Senate from the opposition of the ruling centrist Democrats including Sen. Joe Manchin.

Hyoun-Soo Kim kimhs@donga.com