White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday that President Biden does not currently intend to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 summit next month in Indonesia, after the Saudi Arabia-led OPEC+ group of oil-producing nations decided to cut oil production.
“He has no plans to meet with the crown prince at the G20 summit,” Sullivan said on CNN. “He is focused, however, on making sure that through every engagement that he has across the board, he’s looking out for, not just the U.S., but for our allies as well.”
Sullivan spoke briefly about the White House’s vows to “re-evaluate” the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia following the OPEC+ decision. The Saudis said the U.S. had requested that the cut be delayed a month, until after the November midterm elections.
The administration immediately pushed back, accusing the Saudis of trying to “spin and deflect” in efforts to aid the Russians in their invasion of Ukraine.
Sullivan said Sunday that Biden will act “methodically” in re-evaluating the U.S.-Saudi relationship and that potential options include halting arms sales to Riyadh.
“And so the President isn’t going act precipitously, he is going to act methodically, strategically and he’s going to take his time to consult with members of both parties, and also to have an opportunity for Congress to return so that he can sit with them in person and work through the options,” he said.
Biden argued in July that improving U.S.-Saudi relations was essential to positioning the U.S. “in the best possible position to outcompete China.” He traveled to Saudi Arabia that month to plead for increased oil production as prices at the pump in the U.S. reached record highs.
The trip was widely criticized by the media and members of his own party after Biden greeted the crown prince with a fist bump instead of a handshake during the visit, despite previously vowing to make the country a “pariah” for human rights abuses and its killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.