President Biden reaffirmed the U.S. partnership and commitment to work with the Middle East as Saudi Arabia announces it will increase its oil production.
“The U.S. is going to remain an active partner in the Middle East as the world grows more competitive,” Biden told reporters on Saturday in Jeddah. “It’s only becoming clearer to me how closely woven America’s interests are with successes in the Middle East. We will not walk away to leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia or Iran.”
He added, “We will seek to build on this moment with active, principled, American leadership.”
Biden’s comments follow a busy series of talks with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman regarding energy production and human rights. The crown prince announced that Saudi Arabia would increase production from roughly 10 million barrels of crude oil per day to 13 million.
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“Energy producers have increased production, and I look forward to seeing what’s coming in the next month,” Biden said of the development. The White House has stressed that it does not expect the output to occur immediately but rather over the coming months.
But Saudi Minister for Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan told reporters Saturday that the president did not discuss oil production during the weekend meetings.
“Oil production specifically wasn’t discussed at the summit,” Farhan said. “It wasn’t really a subject for the summit. Obviously, OPEC plus has responded recently to market conditions and they will continue to assess market conditions going forward and will do what they believe is necessary to maintain balance in the markets.”
Another topic of considerable conversation – and one that likely factored into ensuring Saudi Arabia’s cooperation on the much-needed increase in oil output – focused on Iran’s increasingly developed nuclear capabilities.
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Experts have previously told Fox News Digital that should Iran obtain the ability to produce a nuclear weapon, it would likely set off a domino effect that would start with Saudi Arabia seeking the means to defend itself from such a weapon.
Biden described Iran’s “destabilizing activities” as causing “critical changes” in the region. He pledged to work with Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern partners to ensure Iran does not achieve a nuclear capacity.
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“The U.S. is clear-eyed about challenges in the Middle East and where we can drive outcomes,” the president said. “Our focus is achievable.”
But many have criticized the president for his seemingly familiar greeting with the crown prince – a man who allegedly ordered the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The president on Friday said he confronted the crown prince about the death and affirmed his belief that the crown prince did in fact order the attack.
Biden insisted that this disagreement did not and would not obstruct progress on other issues, despite the fact that the Washington Post – which Khashoggi contributed to during his career – and Khashoggi’s wife criticized Biden for his actions.
“I’ve gotten plenty of criticism over the years,” the president said. “It’s not fun, but the ability to speak openly and exchange ideas freely is what unlocks innovation.”
“Accountable institutions that are free from corruption, that act transparently, and respect the rule of law are the best way to deliver growth, respond to people’s needs, and, I believe, ensure justice.”
Source: Fox News