Saudi surprise at Bush oil call

President George Bush's call to reduce America's dependence on Middle Eastern oil has sparked "serious concern" in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom's ambassador to Washington has said.

    President Bush wants to cut US imports of Middle East oil

    "I was taken aback," Prince Turki al-Faisal told CNN television in an interview on Sunday.

    He was commenting on Bush's State of the Union speech last Tuesday in which he said America needed to end its addiction to oil.
    Expressing his suprise, al-Faisal said he had brought up Saudi concerns over the speech with White House officials.

    Al-Faisal had been among ambassadors watching the president's address from the floor of the US House of Representatives.

    "This is something that is of serious concern to us because oil is our major income earner," the prince said.

    Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil producer, although the US gets more of its oil imports from neighbouring Mexico and Canada.

    Alternative sources

    "This is something that is of serious concern to us because oil is our major income earner"

    Prince Turki al-Faisal,
    Saudi Ambassador to Washington

    Al-Faisal added that he had "a very good meeting at the White House" with national security adviser Stephen Hadley the day after the speech to discuss his concerns.

    "We are talking through that issue," said al-Faisal, noting that Saudi crude makes up about 15% of US oil imports.

    In his speech Bush set a goal of reducing US imports of Middle East oil by 75% by 2025, saying that "America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world".

    He said America had to develop alternative sources of energy, saying he would push for  a 22% increase in funding for clean energy research, including nuclear and renewable energy.

    The United States is the world's largest consumer of oil and although it has its own oil fields in areas such as Texas, Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, it relies heavily on foreign imports to meet its needs.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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