US President Joe Biden and King Salman of Saudi Arabia discussed energy supplies amid soaring prices and regional issues, including Iran and Yemen, Wednesday.

"The two leaders committed to ensuring the stability of global energy supplies," the White House said in a statement.

Salman, emphasized the need to maintain the supply agreement OPEC has with its allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+.

Saudi Arabia, along other producers cut exports in April 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic sharply reduced demand, but later decided to maintain most of the reduction, increasing production incrementally.

Global crude prices, which have rallied about 20% this year, are likely to surpass $100 a barrel because of a weaker-than- expected hit to demand from the Omicron variant of coronavirus, analysts have said.

International Brent oil settled nearly 1% higher, at $91.55 a barrel, on Wednesday.

High oil prices are a risk to the Biden administration ahead of November's congressional elections in which his fellow Democrats will defend slim majorities in the Senate and US House of Representatives.

The White House said that on the call, Biden also repeated the commitment of the United States to support Saudi Arabia in defending itself against attacks by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group, the White House said.

Biden also briefed Salman on international talks revive the 2015 nuclear agreement (JCPOA) to "re-establish constraints on Iran's nuclear program," the White House said.

Saudi Arabia along with its Persian Gulf allies and Israel eye the talks with apprehension as the revival of the agreement will not constrain Iran’s ballistic missile program and aggressive regional policies.

In recent weeks, Iran-backed Houthis have fired missiles at the United Arab Emirates, in a rare escalation, which is believed to have had Tehran’s blessing as most of Houthi weapons are supplied by Iran.

The conflict in Yemen is largely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis, who ousted the government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014, say they are fighting a corrupt system and foreign aggression.

Salman told Biden that Saudi Arabia wanted there to be a "political resolution" in Yemen, SPA said.

A US source familiar with the call said, "Saudi Arabia has historically played a vital role in ensuring global energy markets are well supplied to support strong and resilient economies.

"The president noted that it is especially important now, during this time of geopolitical instability and global recovery," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Oil has also been supported by the tension in Ukraine as Russia has put more than 100,000 troops on its borders.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week the administration has been in coordination with allies and partners including on "how best to share energy reserves in the event that Russia turns off the spigot or initiates a conflict that disrupts the flow of gas through Ukraine".

That was an apparent reference to both the potential of oil and natural gas cutoffs in the aftermath of any invasion by Moscow.

Biden's last call with Salman was reported about a year ago around the time of the release of a US assessment that said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king's son, approved an operation to capture or kill murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

With reporting by Reuters

News Summary - DC
Emrouz
Science Weekly

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