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RIYADH, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has decided to be “mature partners” in its fight with the United States over oil supplies, the kingdom’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Tuesday.
A decision this month by the Saudi Arabia-led OPEC+ oil producer group to cut oil production targets has drawn the attention of top U.S. business executives.
Relations between the two traditional allies have already been strained by the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Joe Biden administration’s stance on the war in Yemen and Riyadh’s growing ties to China and Russia.
Asked at the FII forum how he could get energy relations with the US back on track after the cuts and the December 5 deadline for an expected price cap on Russian oil, the Saudi energy minister said: “I think we are. Because Saudi Arabia has decided to be mature guys, let the dice fall.” “.
“We keep hearing, ‘You’re with us or you’re with us or you’re against.’Is there any room for ‘We’re with the people of Saudi Arabia’?”
Saudi Investment Minister Khalid al-Balih said Riyadh and Washington would overcome their “unnecessary” spat, highlighting long-standing corporate and institutional ties.
“If you look at the relationship with the people side, the corporate side, the education system, if you look at our institutions working together, we are very close and we will overcome this latest fight, which I think is unnecessary,” he said.
Noting that Saudi Arabia and the United States have long been “firm allies,” he highlighted that the kingdom is “very strong” with its Asian partners, including China, the largest importer of Saudi hydrocarbons.
The OPEC+ cuts have raised concerns in Washington about the potential for higher gasoline prices ahead of November’s US midterm elections, as Democrats try to retain control of the House of Representatives and Senate.
Biden vowed “there will be consequences” for US relations with Saudi Arabia after the OPEC+ move.
Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud, the kingdom’s ambassador to Washington, said in a CNN interview that Saudi Arabia is not siding with Russia and is engaging with “everyone.”
“And it’s okay to disagree. We’ve disagreed in the past, we’ve agreed in the past, but the important thing is to recognize the value of this relationship,” he said.
He added that “a lot of people are talking about reforming or rethinking relations” and that this is “a positive thing” because Saudi Arabia is “not the kingdom it was five years ago”.
Full attendance at FII
As in previous years, the three-day FII forum that opened on Tuesday saw a large participation from Wall Street, as well as other industries with strategic interests in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, speaking at the meeting, expressed confidence that Saudi Arabia and the United States will preserve their 75-year alliance.
“I can’t imagine any partners agreeing to everything and not having issues — they will,” Dimon said. “I’m comfortable with people on both sides working, and I hope these countries will be allies going forward and help the world grow and develop properly.”
The FII is a showcase of the Saudi crown prince’s Vision 2030 development plan, which aims to create new industries to diversify the economy away from oil and create jobs for millions of Saudis and attract foreign capital and talent.
No Biden administration officials were seen at the forum on Tuesday. Jared Kushner, a former senior aide to then-President Donald Trump who enjoyed a good relationship with Prince Mohammed, was featured as a keynote speaker.
The Saudi government invested $2 billion in Kushner after Trump left office.
FII organizers said this year attracted 7,000 delegates compared to 4,000 delegates last year.
After its initial publication in 2017, the forum was marred by Western neglect of Khashoggi’s killing by Saudi agents. It rebounded the following year, attracting leaders and businesses with strategic interests in Saudi Arabia, after which the pandemic hit the world.
Reporting by Aziz El Yacoubi, Hadeel Al Sheikh and Rachna Uppal in Riyadh and Nadine Awadallah, Maha El Dahan and Youssef Sabah in Dubai; Written by Kaida Candes and Michael Giori; Editing by Lewis Heavens, Mark Potter, Vinay Dwivedi, William McLean
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