US focused ‘on the future,’ Saudi Arabia remains key partner: White House

“Saudi Arabia is still a strategic partner, has been for eight decades, and will be for the next eight decades,” Kirby said.

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The Biden administration on Monday delivered a much more muted response to OPEC+ and Saudi Arabia’s decisions to further cut oil output in a sign of easing tensions between Washington and Riyadh.

“I know of no advance notice [from Saudi Arabia], nor would there need to be,” White House National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby told reporters. “That was a unilateral decision by a sovereign state. So, I’ll let them speak to that,” Kirby said when asked if the US was informed beforehand.


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Last fall, when OPEC+, led by Saudi Arabia, decided to cut oil output, the Biden administration accused them of “siding with Russia” as the US and much of Europe were trying to curtail Russian oil revenues from reaching Vladimir Putin’s coffers.

And before that OPEC+ decision, US President Joe Biden dispatched senior officials from his administration to try to get them to reverse course on oil production cuts. The Saudis rebuffed the calls and pushed ahead with its move.

The stark difference in the tone of US officials this week appears to be a further sign that ties have significantly improved in recent months.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is heading to Saudi Arabia this week, making him at least the third senior US official to visit the kingdom in the last three months.

Asked about the US-Saudi relationship on Monday, the NSC’s Kirby struck an upbeat down as has been the case in the last several months.

The US has also publicly lauded Saudi Arabia’s decision to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the UN as well as Riyadh’s pledge of over $400 million to Kyiv.

“There’s going to be issues where we don’t agree with Saudi Arabia, and we have the kind of relationship that we can express those concerns directly, and we do all the time,” Kirby said.

He added: “But we’re focused on the future. Saudi Arabia is still a strategic partner, has been for eight decades, and will be for the next eight decades. And we’re managing that relationship going forward; that’s what our focus is on.”

Read more: Blinken to travel to Saudi Arabia for meetings next week: State Department

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