Saudi Arabia & UAE snub phone calls with Biden – media
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the UAE declined US requests to speak to President Joe Biden in recent weeks, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing US officials.
“There was some expectation of a phone call, but it didn’t happen,” a US official told the paper. “It was part of turning on the spigot [of Saudi oil].”
According to the report, Riyadh “signaled” to Biden that the Saudis wanted more support in several sensitive issues, including their civilian nuclear program and intervention in the Yemeni civil war, and the Emiratis shared their concerns.
Biden eventually spoke to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud over the phone on February 9, pledging to support the kingdom against the Yemeni Houthi rebels and Iran, as well as ensuring “the stability of global energy supplies,” according to the White House. The UAE was quoted as saying that the call between Biden and Sheikh Mohamed would be rescheduled.
Last month, Saudi Arabia rejected a US call to increase oil production amid tensions between NATO and Russia and rising oil prices, the Wall Street Journal wrote at the time.
On Tuesday, Biden banned oil and gas imports from Russia as part of sanctions regarding Moscow’s military campaign against Ukraine. At the same time, several US media outlets reported that Washington was considering easing sanctions on oil imports from Venezuela in order to compensate for the loss of energy supplies from Moscow.
President Nicolas Maduro confirmed that a team of US officials paid a rare visit to the South American country over the weekend, describing the meeting as “respectful” and “cordial.”
Many countries, including the US, UK, and EU member states, imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia, hitting its banks, among other things. The majority of European states banned flights by Russian airlines, and Moscow responded in kind. Many global firms and brands said they will leave the Russia market.
Russia insisted that it was forced to attack its neighbor to defend the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which broke away from Ukraine shortly after the 2014 coup in Kiev. Moscow further said it wanted Ukraine to officially declare itself a neutral country, renouncing its bid to join NATO one day.
Kiev said the attack was entirely unprovoked and appealed to the international community for help.