U.S. President Joe Biden is re-evaluating the United States’ relationship with OPEC’s de facto leader Saudi Arabia after the Kingdom led the OPEC+ group to announce a major oil production cut last week, John Kirby, the coordinator for strategic communications at the U.S. National Security Council, said on Tuesday.
In an interview with CNN quoted by Reuters, Kirby said that President Biden was prepared to work with Congress on the future of U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia.
The comments from Kirby come hours after U.S. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, blasted Saudi Arabia for announcing the oil production cut and called for an “immediate” freezing of U.S. cooperation with the Kingdom, including arms sales.
Commenting on the deadly Russian attacks on cities across Ukraine on Monday, Senator Menendez said, referring to Saudi Arabia, “There simply is no room to play both sides of this conflict – either you support the rest of the free world in trying to stop a war criminal from violently wiping off an entire country off of the map, or you support him.”
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia chose the latter in a terrible decision driven by economic self-interest,” Senator Menendez added.
Last week, OPEC+ announced the biggest cut to its collective target since 2020. Despite insistence from Russia and all of OPEC+ that the production cut is based on technical market assessments and is aimed at “stability,” many analysts, as well as the White House, saw the move as a political one.
The United States is considering “response options” in its relations with OPEC+ members and its de facto leader Saudi Arabia, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week after the OPEC+ group announced the production cut.
“As to the relationship going forward, we’re reviewing a number of response options. We’re consulting closely with Congress,” Secretary Blinken said last week.