Even if Saudi Arabia agrees during upcoming meetings with President Joe Biden to increase oil production, that won't immediately drop the price of gasoline in the United States to the levels seen at the pumps while former President Donald Trump was in office, Rep. Chris Stewart, who has just returned from a congressional trip to Saudi Arabia, said on Newsmax on Tuesday.
The prices may be helped in the long term and on the margin, the Utah Republican, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Appropriations Committee, told Newsmax's "Wake Up America."
"It's not going to drive the price of gasoline down to $2.40 like it was when this president took office," said Stewart. "It's going to take time. It's a global energy market. The Saudis' increased production would help — it certainly would — but it's not going to, as I said, make a significant difference."
Stewart, who, during the trip, met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss the United States' relationship with that country, said the Saudis' major focus, rather than oil production, is what the U.S. will do to help counter Iran's influence.
"The crown prince, as well as every other minister that we met with, one of the first things they want to talk about is Iran, and it should be one of the first things that we align ourselves with them," said Stewart. "We have a mutual goal there in countering Iran's influence. They are directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of us soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the crown prince recognizes that he wants to align with us to be able to counter Iran's influence."
Further, Saudi Arabia is "one of the most important strategic allies we have in the region and has been for about 100 years," said Stewart. "They are key for us to counter the malicious and the deadly activities of Iran. They're key to the future of the price of energy and oil, and stability, and they are key to the future of the Abraham Accords or other future peace agreements."
The Saudis, though, at this point have a "closer relationship with Israel than they do with the president of the United States," said Stewart.
"I think that shows what an enormous miscalculation it was for this administration to come in with such a close friend and ally and to say things such as, We're going to make them a pariah," said Stewart. "We're going to separate ourselves from them something that should not happen and fair and frankly, he's just got to correct it now … we do have to recalculate. We do have to take steps to have a better relationship with the leadership of Saudi Arabia."
Stewart also said Tuesday he'd rather that Biden spend time in the U.S., allowing oil and gas exploration, than traveling to Saudi Arabia, but still, the president must treat the Middle East country as being "key to the future of oil prices and the price of energy."
"The fact that president has to go hat in hand to the Saudis and OPEC and say, Will you please increase oil production because I won't allow my country to do it? I think is frankly absurd," Stewart said.
Stewart said he thinks it important that Americans recognize that there is "remarkable change" taking place in Saudi Arabia, including with its treatment of women, who not long ago could not be outside their homes without a male escort.
"Now they're involved in education and business, and their military," said Stewart. "We traveled around with Princess Reema, the Saudi Arabia ambassador to the United States, and it's remarkable how young women come up to her because they recognize she represents the future of women in Saudi Arabia."
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