President Joe Biden is not going to directly ask Saudi Arabia's leaders to pump more oil amid energy shortages, massive inflation, and record-high gas prices but still plans to address his concerns on the matter to all of the Gulf states.
"No, I'm not going to ask them," Biden told reporters Thursday at his post-NATO summit news conference in Madrid. "I'm going to ask — all the Gulf states are meeting — I've indicated to them that I thought they should be increasing oil production generically, not to Saudi Arabia in particular. I think we're going to ... I hope we see them in their own interests concluding that makes sense to do."
Biden had campaigned on making Saudi Arabia a "pariah" for its involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and there have been reports King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had rejected taking calls in the past from Biden and his administration.
Biden said a direct meeting with Saudi Arabian leaders is "not the purpose of the trip."
"It's in Saudi Arabia, but it's not about Saudi Arabia," Biden told reporters. "It's in Saudi Arabia. There's not a commitment that's going to made. I guess I will see the king and the crown prince, but that's not the meeting I'm going to. They'll be part of a much larger meeting."
Biden is going to travel to Saudi Arabia in July for a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council leaders in the Middle East, and he said the trip will be more about peace and security in the Middle East, particularly focused on Israel and all the countries' concerns about Iran.
"There's a whole range of things that go well beyond anything having to do with Saudi Arabia in particular," Biden added.
Biden also said at the news conference in Spain that Americans will have to stomach high gas prices for "as long as it takes" to beat back Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
Biden will make a three-stop trip to the Middle East in mid-July that includes a visit to Saudi Arabia, pushing energy policy into the spotlight as the U.S. and other countries face soaring fuel prices that are driving up inflation.
OPEC Plus — a combination of the 13-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and an informal group of non-OPEC members led by Russia — met virtually Thursday and reaffirmed an earlier decision to add 648,000 barrels per day to oil markets in July and August. Most of the additional output is coming from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Americans are paying an average $4.86 per gallon for gasoline, down slightly from the $4.94 that they were paying a week ago, but still near the record highs reached earlier this year.
Information from Reuters was used in this report.
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