Saudi FM denies MBS privately derided US President Biden

Relations between the US and Saudi Arabia have nosedived after the kingdom and OPEC+ countries decided to cut oil supply earlier this month.

Joe Biden in Saudi Arabia
Biden met the Saudi Crown Prince during his July trip to Saudi Arabia. [File: Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via Reuters]

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud has denied that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had privately derided United States President Joe Biden, or told aides he was unimpressed by him and favoured former US leader Donald Trump.

“These allegations made by anonymous sources are entirely false,” said Prince Faisal in an interview with The Wall Street Journal published on Monday.

“The kingdom’s leaders have always held the utmost respect for US presidents, based on the kingdom’s belief in the importance of having a relationship based on mutual respect.”

The foreign minister’s defence of the crown prince, popularly known as MBS, comes as Saudi-US ties have been strained after the Saudi-led OPEC+ cartel announced a huge oil production cut earlier this month to shore up oil prices despite US pressure.

Biden on October 11 warned Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, that there would be “consequences” in the wake of the production cuts that came as the world struggles to cope with high energy prices due to the war in Ukraine.

The decision by OPEC+, which includes Russia, undermines Western countries’ plans to impose a cap on the price of Russian oil in response to Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

Several Democratic leaders, who are livid with the production cut that came before the crucial midterm elections slated to be held next month, called on the White House to pressure Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to reverse the decision.

Saudi Arabia has said that the production cut by two million barrels per day was not aimed at driving up prices. It said the move was taken to stabilise the oil market.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Saudi investment minister Khalid al-Falih said his country would “get over this recent spat” with Washington, which he said was unwarranted, adding that both countries were “solid allies” in the long term.

“On the other side, we’re very strong with our Asian partners,” he said, naming Japan and Korea and noting that China was the biggest importer of Saudi Arabia’s hydrocarbons.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies