Following Biden-MBS meet, Saudi diplomat refuses to commit to boosting oil production

President Joe Biden was hoping that Saudi Arabia would bail him out of the energy crisis that he helped to bring about. But, a Saudi diplomat briefly called this into question.

Breitbart News reports that Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir on Friday refused to say whether his country will commit to boosting oil production. 

Al-Jubeir’s statement came on the heels of Biden’s meetup with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). Al-Jubeir actually witnessed the meeting.

On Friday, al-Jubeir made an appearance on CNN’s Situation Room where he spoke about key aspects of the meeting, including boosting oil production.

Al-Jubeir says it wouldn’t help

CNN host Wolf Blitzer asked al-Jubier whether Biden asked MBS “to increase oil production with the hope that it would reduce the price of gasoline in the United States?”

Al-Jubier replied:

Not in — with specificity because the president knows that [the] energy issue is an issue of supply and demand. It’s an issue of balancing markets. Saudi Arabia’s committed to ensuring stability in the oil markets. The U.S. government is aware of this. The issue of increases in prices of gasoline that we’ve seen recently are really a function of geopolitics and psychology more than they are about fundamental supply/demand. The problem of gasoline in the United States is more a function of the lack of refining capacity in the United States than a shortage of actual crude oil.

Seeing that Al-Jubier didn’t directly answer the question, Blitzer asked, “But is Saudi Arabia ready to increase oil production?”

Al-Jubier again refused to directly answer the question, instead repeating the line about ensuring market stability, adding, “Saudi Arabia has increased its oil production over the past year substantially in accordance with the demands of the market, and this is a situation that is continuously being assessed by our Energy Ministry and by experts in this area to determine whether or not more oil is required or less oil is required.”

Blitzer, one last time, tried to get at the question in a different way, asking whether Biden “pressed” MBS on the issue of oil production. Al-Jubeir diplomatically said “no,” explaining that Biden “came here to consult on the various issues and how we can move forward in order to ensure that the next 80 years are as positive as the previous 80 years in our relationship.”

Saudi Arabia suddenly agrees

Reports on Saturday — the day after al-Jubeir CNN interview — indicated that Saudi Arabia has agreed to boost oil production.

Business Insider reports:

24Live tweeted that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had agreed to boost production by about 4 million barrels a day to 13 million barrels during a speech at the opening of a summit with Arab leaders.

Is it “mission accomplished” for Biden? Or, is there more going on here than meets the eye? Time will tell.

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