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President Joe Biden on Thursday said that he will not request Saudi leaders to increase oil production during his trip to Saudi Arabia next month, stressing that it is “not the purpose of the trip,” while blaming sky-high gas prices in the United States on “Russia, Russia, Russia.”
The president, during a rare press conference on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Spain Thursday, took several questions from reporters, ranging from US inflation, to continued support for Ukraine, and more.
Biden was asked whether he will ask the crown prince of the king of Saudi Arabia during his trip next month to increase oil production, as Americans continue to feel the pain at the pump, and questioned how he will hold the kingdom accountable amid its human rights abuse.
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“Well, first of all, that’s not the purpose of the trip,” the president said, noting it will begin in Israel. “The Israelis believe it is really important that I make the trip,” he continued.
“What we’re talking about in dealing with that trip before I go, as I said, going to Israel to meet with the Israeli leaders to affirm the unbreakable bond Israel and the United States have,” Biden said, adding that part of the “purpose” of the trip to the Middle East is “to deepen Israel’s integration to the region, which I think for peace, and is good for Israeli security.”
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“And that is why Israeli leaders have come out so strongly for my going to Saudi,” he said, adding that he is also going to “try to reduce the deaths and the war that’s occurring in Yemen,” and a “whole range of things that go well beyond anything having to do with Saudi in particular.”
When pressed on whether he would ask for increased oil production from Saudi leaders, Biden said: “No.”
“That’s the all the Gulf states meeting. I indicated to them that I thought they should be increasing oil production, generically, not to the Saudis particularly,” Biden said. “And I think we’re going to—I hope we see them and their own interests concluding that makes sense to do.”
But the president, during the press conference, again placed blame on Russia for the rising gas prices in the US
The president laid out the actions he has taken to address the skyrocketing prices of fuel, including releasing a million barrels of oil per day from the US oil reserve, in addition to his efforts to get other nations to remove a total of 240 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
The president added that he has asked Congress to temporarily end the tax on gasoline at the pump, and asked states to do the same.
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“If we do these things, it’s estimated that we could bring down tomorrow—if they, Congress, agreed and the states agreed—we could bring down the price of oil by a dollar a gallon at the pump in that range,” Biden said , adding that it could provide “immediate relief.”
He added: “And so that’s the way in which I think we should move, and I think it would have a positive impact on the price at the pump as well.”
“The bottom line is, ultimately, the reason why gas prices are up is because of Russia, Russia, Russia,” Biden continued. “The reason why the food crisis exists is because of Russia, Russia, not allowing grain to get out of Ukraine.”
In regards to US support for Ukraine, the president said that he and NATO allies have determined that they will support Ukraine “for as long as it takes.”
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“We are going to stick with Ukraine and all of the allies are going to stick with Ukraine as long as it takes to, in fact, make sure they are not defeated by Ukraine, and excuse me, by Russia,” Biden said, noting that Ukraine has “already dealt a severe blow to Russia.”
He added: “Ukraine has demonstrated that, in fact, they can continue to resist the Russian aggression. And so I don’t know how it is going to end, but it will not end with a Russian defeat of Ukraine in Ukraine.”