Joe Biden Has 'No Plans' to Meet Saudi Leader at G20

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that Pres. Biden has "no plans" to meet Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, at the upcoming G20 summit.

Joe Biden Has 'No Plans' to Meet Saudi Leader at G20
Image credit: Saudi Royal Court/Handout [via Reuters]

Facts

  • White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that Pres. Biden has "no plans" to meet Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, at the upcoming G20 summit.
  • Sullivan did clarify that the president "is focused, however, on making sure that through every engagement that he has across the board, he’s looking out for, not just the US, but for our allies as well."
  • Sullivan also said that Biden will act "methodically" in deciding how to respond to Saudi Arabia over oil output cuts, with options including changes to US security assistance, such as weapons sales.
  • Relations between the White House and Riyadh have recently soured following the decision by OPEC+ to cut oil production earlier this month, which will likely lead to an increase in oil prices.
  • Some members of Congress have also shown their displeasure with OPEC+'s production cuts, with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introducing a bill last week that would suspend all US arms sales to Saudi Arabia for one year.
  • On the campaign trail, Biden vocally criticized Saudi Arabia and MBS, calling for a reset between the two countries. However, following the onset of the war in Ukraine and hikes in gas prices, Biden visited the kingdom in July to discuss the global energy supply, among other issues.

Sources: Daily Mail, FOX News, Reuters, Al Jazeera, CNN, and NBC.

Narratives

  • Republican narrative, as provided by NY Post. Joe Biden and the Democratic Party don't actually care about how much Americans are paying at the pump. In reality, they only care about the midterm elections and the effect increased gas prices could have. The White House's main point of contention was not OPEC+'s production cuts, but the fact that they didn't occur until after the midterms. This is what Biden and the Democrats get for antagonizing America's allies.
  • Democratic narrative, as provided by CNN. Though Republicans may try to browbeat the president for his attempts to secure US national interests, the reality is Biden has no plans to make any major changes to the US-Saudi relationship without first consulting Congress after it returns from recess. Though the Saudis are US allies, they have worked against US interests by cutting oil production, which is essentially a victory for Russia. Biden is being firm, but fair.
  • Cynical narrative, as provided by NBC. OPEC+'s production cut was inevitable, as Saudi Arabia has so much to gain from high oil prices and little incentive to kowtow to US national interests. Though Biden tried to decouple the US from the kingdom, the war in Ukraine ultimately made this plan impossible. Biden's visit in July also inevitably bore no fruit, as Saudi Arabia has no motivation to change policy. The kingdom holds the cards in this relationship.