Saudi, UAE leaders snub Biden as oil prices surge following Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Saudi, UAE leaders snub Biden as oil prices surge following Russia's invasion of Ukraine
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan were 'unavailable' to speak to US President Joe Biden as Washington looks to OPEC+ countries to balance surging oil prices.
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Saudi and Emirati leaders are 'unavailable' to speak to US President Joe Biden [Getty]

Saudi and Emirati leaders are avoiding speaking to US President Joe Biden about increasing oil production, as prices surge due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Washington expected contact from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the powerful Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, but both are unavailable to speak in the next few weeks, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The lack of communication follows a decision by US President Biden on Tuesday to place an immediate ban on Russian oil and other energy imports, which drove oil prices to $130 a barrel - the highest level in 14 years.

Washington is currently seeking out options to balance surging oil prices and has made unsuccessful bids to OPEC+, countries to increase oil production.

"There was some expectation of a phone call, but it didn't happen," a US official told WSJ, in reference to a potential conversation between bin Salman and Biden.

"It was part of turning on the spigot [of Saudi oil]."

The official added that Saudi relations with the US began to slip after the Biden administration was elected.

Saudi Arabia has been disappointed with the lack of support from Washington over the Yemen war.

Tensions have also been frayed over a CIA report blaming MbS for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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"The Saudis have signalled that their relationship with Washington has deteriorated under the Biden administration, and they want more support for their intervention in Yemen…, help with their own civilian nuclear program as Iran's moves ahead, and legal immunity for Prince Mohammed in the US," Wall Street Journal quoted Saudi officials as saying.

Last week, when bin Salman was asked by The Atlantic magazine if Biden misunderstands him, he responded with: "Simply, I do not care", adding that alienating Riyadh would only hurt US interests.

"It's up to him to think about the interests of America," he noted. "Go for it."

UAE ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba, acknowledged last week that relations between the two countries are strained. "Today, we're going through a stress test, but I am confident that we will get out of it and get to a better place."

Meanwhile, Washington for the first time in years opted to open diplomatic channels with Venezuela, a Russian ally, which has the world's largest oil reserves.