President Joe Biden, who put distance between himself and Saudi leaders when he took office, got a dose of payback recently, according to a new report.
Saudi leaders refused to speak with Biden when the president’s aides tried to arrange a call between Biden and the Saudi leadership to address global oil issues amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Journal report said that the United Arab Emirates — a close working partner of former President Donald Trump — also refused to participate in a call with Biden.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the U.A.E.’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan both said they had nothing to say to Biden, according to the Journal.
The outlet reported that Prince Mohammed and Sheikh Mohammed both received phone calls from Russian leader Vladimir Putin last week and spoke to the Russian leader.
Biden spoke to Prince Mohammed’s 86-year-old father, King Salman, on Feb. 9, according to MarketWatch. A UAE spokesman said a call between Biden and Sheikh Mohammed would be rescheduled.
“There was some expectation of a phone call, but it didn’t happen,” a U.S. official who was not named told the Journal. “It was part of turning on the spigot [of Saudi oil].”
Biden came into office taking a harsh tone towards Saudi Arabia, noted the Guardian. As a candidate he said he would treat it as a “pariah” state, adding that there was “very little social redeeming value in the present government in Saudi Arabia.”
But as gas prices climb and the war in Ukraine makes it unlikely that the situation will reverse itself, Biden is calling upon nations such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to increase oil production.
The effort was part of a pattern that the Wall Street Journal, in an editorial headlined “Biden’s Bizarre Oil Diplomacy,” noted: “He courts Venezuela and the Saudis, but not U.S. or Canadian producers.”
“It speaks volumes about this administration that it’s seeking help from Vladimir Putin’s client in Venezuela and our estranged Saudi allies rather than U.S. shale producers or our Canadian friends,” the editorial said.
The crown prince expressed his indifference to Biden during an interview published this month in the Atlantic.
He was asked if the Biden administration does not understand him.
“Simply, I do not care,” he said.
Prince Mohammed said he believed that putting distance between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. would haunt Biden.
“It’s up to him to think about the interests of America,” he said. “Go for it.”
But as gas prices rise, Biden may try to repair the relationship with a visit to Saudi Arabia, Axios reported.