White House scrambles to defend Biden's upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia
After months of deliberation, OPEC+ has agreed to increase oil production this summer, despite rising global energy prices.
The White House stated on Monday that oil production will be "not the focus" of Biden administration officials' discussions with Saudi Arabia.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday, "I'm saying it's not, it’s not, it's not the focus, stressing that it is "not… on the agenda."
"We don't get involved in any of that," Jean-Pierre said of oil and gas prices.
"That is not the conversations that we have with Saudi Arabia," she stated. "That is not part of our agenda when we have discussions with them."
After months of opposition amid soaring global energy prices, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel and its extended group of allied producers known as OPEC+ approved, on Thursday, to increase oil production this summer.
The group announced that output would be increased by 648,000 per day in July and August, a larger-than-expected increase after previously adhering to a more gradual schedule of increased output agreed to last year following cuts made during the pandemic. For months, oil-producing countries have been pumping an additional 432,000 barrels of crude, up from 400,000.
Simultaneously, the Biden administration applauded OPEC+'s decision. The United States has been pressing OPEC+ to take such action as US citizens face record-high gasoline prices, which are driving inflation.
Meanwhile, Jean-Pierre stated that the White House has "no travel to announce today" regarding any potential plans for the president to visit Saudi Arabia.
"But I can assure you that what the president is focused on is first and foremost is how his engagements with foreign leaders advance American interests," she said. "That is that as true with Saudi Arabia than anywhere else than with anyone else, just as he has engaged recently with leaders of ASEAN in Asia."
Jean-Pierre affirmed that there "was a visit in the works."
The Washington Post and the New York Times both reported last week that Biden would visit Saudi Arabia later this month, despite his recurrent vows to hold the country accountable for human rights violations.
Read more: Saudi Arabia carries out mass execution of 81 people
According to reports, Biden will meet with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, whom US intelligence believes was responsible for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
The reported decision came shortly after Saudi Arabia addressed two of Biden's priorities by agreeing to a production hike in oil - which could help tame rocketing US oil inflation.
This comes as clear evidence that the United States’ dependence on oil directly influences its foreign policy, turning a blind eye to its promise to declare the kingdom a global "pariah" for human rights violations, violations of international law, and open hostility toward Washington.
See more: Saudi Arabia is no longer a "pariah” for the US
"We were going to in fact make [Saudi Arabia] pay the price, and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are," Biden claimed in a 2019 presidential primary debate.
It is worth mentioning that Former President Trump visited Saudi Arabia during his first foreign trip as president, and his feelings toward the Arab country were not soured following the murder of Saudi Arabian-born and US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
At the time, Democrats bashed Trump for not taking the murder seriously.
Biden openly claimed to overhaul Saudi Arabian diplomacy in the aftermath of the incident, including ditching the crown prince.
"We’ve made clear from the beginning that we are going to recalibrate our relationship with Saudi Arabia," former White House press secretary Psaki said at the start of Biden's term.
This comes as clear evidence that the United States’ dependence on oil directly influences its foreign policy, no matter the human rights violations committed by the oil-producing country.