Trump discusses oil market, Mideast, strategic ties in phone call to Saudi King Salman
US President Donald Trump has discussed oil market, Middle East and global developments and bilateral ties in a phone call to Saudi Arabia King Salman on Saturday.
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According to a Saturday report by Riyadh-based official daily Arab News and other state media outlets, Trump and King Salman bin Abdulaziz also discussed mutual ties and “means of developing” their strategic partnership, efforts to “maintain the supply and stability of the oil market” and “ensuring the growth of the global economy.”
The reports, however, did not elaborate on details of the discussions between leaders of the US and the leading member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the world’s top oil exporter.
This is while the White House only stated that Trump and the Saudi despot discussed “issues of regional concern” without providing details, according to US press reports.
The development came days after the American president used his speech in the opening day of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly to reiterate that he was not happy with OPEC, Middle East countries and oil prices, blaming the region’s oil exporting nations for rising fuel prices while enjoying protection from the US military.
“OPEC and OPEC nations, are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world, and I don’t like it; nobody should like it,” Trump emphasized in a harsh and undiplomatic criticism of the organization on Wednesday, insisting, “We want them to stop raising prices. We want them to start lowering prices and they must contribute substantially to military protection from now on.”
He further boasted, "The United States stands ready to export our abundant affordable supply of oil, clean coal, and natural gas."
Trump’s remarks at the world body came after OPEC oil ministers ignored his demand to bring down oil prices as well as increasing the output to make up for expected shortage due to the upcoming US effort to force an international boycott of Iranian oil exports.
At its latest meeting, the group – as well as leading non-OPEC producer, Russia -- snubbed Trump's call to reduce crude prices last week, ruling out any additional rise in oil output.
Trump's demand for suppressing oil prices followed his unilateral decision to leave an international nuclear deal with Iran and re-impose sanctions on the country, leading to surging international crude prices to levels not seen since 2014.
"We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices! We will remember," Trump tweeted last week.
His demand came after benchmark Brent oil reached $80 a barrel this month, despite his earlier assurances that US efforts to impose global sanctions on Iran's oil exports would not affect the market since Saudi Arabia would make up for the shortage and avert fuel price hikes ahead of the US midterm polls on November 6.
The US president aims to unleash his second wave of sanctions against the Islamic Republic on November 4, targeting the country’s oil and gas exports and vowing to bring Tehran’s oil exports to zero.
Meanwhile, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani insisted last week that Tehran can withstand further US economic sanctions and dismissed Washington's threats to choke off Iranian oil exports as an "empty promise."
"The United States is not capable of bringing our oil exports to zero," he told NBC News in New York on Monday.
"It's a threat that is empty of credibility. Perhaps on this path, we will sustain certain pressures but certainly the United States will not reach its objective," he added.
This is while US hedge funds are reportedly watching Trump’s persisting dialogue with the Saudi kingdom for any signs that Washington might take action against its key Arab ally or other US-sponsored OPEC members in the Persian Gulf. He has repeatedly suggested that the oil-rich kingdoms cannot survive without US military protection.
The Arab kingdoms spend billions annually on purchase and maintenance of vast amounts of US-built weaponry.
Meanwhile, Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, surged to a new 4-year high of more than $83 a barrel on Friday as the market braces for the potential impact of Washington’s upcoming energy sanctions against Iran.
Gasoline pump prices are also increasing across the US, squeezing consumers just weeks prior to crucial mid-term elections that may prove quite costly for the ruling Republican Party and Trump’s presidency.