House Democrats urge Biden to get tough on Saudi Arabia – Reuters

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly three dozen House Democrats are pushing the administration to get tough on Saudi Arabia, calling it the wrong strategic partner after it refused to help ease the global oil supply crisis. during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Representative Gerry Connolly, a Democrat from Virginia and senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Representative Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts and chairman of the Rules Committee, led lawmakers in a letter asking the Secretary of State Antony Blinken a “recalibration”. of the US-Saudi relationship.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

President Joe Biden began his presidency by freezing the kingdom’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, over Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen and abuses, including the killing of US journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a consulate Saudi in Istanbul.

Tight oil supply and inflation-spurring rising oil prices, however, have led the Biden administration to try to improve relations with Saudi leaders since then.

Blinken and other U.S. diplomats and military leaders called on Saudi officials, recalled public criticism of Saudi imprisonment of dissidents, and stressed U.S. defensive support for the kingdom against cross-border missile attacks on Saudi oil sites and other targets by Houthi rebels in Yemen. .

There are no signs that the US overtures have appeased offended Saudi leaders, and the kingdom has refused to make the drastic increases in oil pumping the US is hoping for.

The House Democrats’ letter noted the kingdom’s continued harsh treatment of rights defenders and the 2018 killing of Khashoggi, which the US intelligence community concluded Prince Mohammed ordered.

And currently, the Democrats wrote, Saudi Arabia is doing nothing to help the West as it tries to freeze Russia over its war in Ukraine. Russia is one of the world’s top oil and gas producers, and the conflict has worsened an already tight global oil supply.

‘Instead of heeding our government’s calls to produce more oil, a first step that would immediately lower prices for Americans across the country,’ Saudi leaders reportedly discussed pricing with China over part of its oil sales in Chinese yuan, a move that could weaken the U.S. dollar, the Democrats wrote.

“Governments that have formed true ironclad alliances with the United States, forged in shared values ​​of democratic standards and respect for human rights, have answered the call to action in the wake of an unprovoked invasion. Unfortunately, our longstanding relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has not produced a similar response,” the Democrats wrote.

“Saudi Arabia’s failure to uphold international law illustrates the short- and long-term risks associated with maintaining uncritical U.S. support for the Saudi regime,” the letter added. He asked Blinken to rebalance the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia accordingly.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington said on Wednesday it would provide up to $10 million in support for Ukrainian refugees.

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Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

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