Biden Snubbed by Arab Leaders in Bid to Control Gas Prices, Report Says

Leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have declined calls with President Joe Biden, who hoped to discuss boosting oil exports to offset the increase of gas prices linked to Russia's war on Ukraine, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

As gas prices surge to all-time highs, Biden reached out to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the U.A.E.'s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, but was denied, the Journal reported. "There was some expectation of a phone call, but it didn't happen," a U.S. official told the Journal regarding a call between Biden and Salman. "It was part of turning on the spigot [of Saudi oil]."

Saudi officials say their relationship with the U.S. has deteriorated since the Biden administration took over, citing Biden's lack of support in the civil war in Yemen and negotiations concerning the Iran nuclear deal moving forward instead of their own program.

Saudi Arabia has also been pushing for legal immunity for Prince Mohammed in the U.S., officials told the Journal. The prince faces lawsuits and is accused of killing a journalist in 2018.

Active pump jacks increase pressure to draw oil toward the surface at the South Belridge Oil Field on February 26, 2022, in unincorporated Kern County, California, about 140 miles northwest of Los Angeles, California. Getty Images

The White House has been working to repair relations with the two Middle Eastern countries. Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. are the only two major oil producers that can pump millions of barrels of oil at a capacity that could offset American gas prices, the Journal reports.

However, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. both said they will not produce more oil than agreed upon with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and a group of other producers led by Russia.

Due to Russia's attack on Ukraine, the Biden administration banned all Russian oil imports into the U.S., which started Tuesday.

"I am announcing the United States is targeting the main artery of Russia's economy. We're banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy," Biden said Tuesday from the White House. "That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at U.S. ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's war machine."

In search of other sources of oil, U.S. officials visited Venezuela and are considering easing sanctions against the country to allow it to increase oil exports. Venezuela was once a major exporter of oil to the U.S., but a combination of mismanagement and U.S. sanctions drastically reduced output.

Biden's idea of easing sanctions on Venezuela brought bipartisan backlash from lawmakers.

Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, tweeted on Monday: "It is wrong for the Biden Administration to beg for oil from Venezuela & legitimize [Venezuelan President Nicolás] Maduro's communist regime during an official visit."

"The U.S. should hold Maduro accountable while increasing domestic energy production so we won't need to rely on hostile regimes for energy," DeSantis added.

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey also criticized Biden for engaging with Maduro's government.

"Nicolás Maduro is a cancer to our hemisphere and we should not breathe new life into his reign of torture and murder," Menendez said in a statement on Monday.

Newsweek reached out to the Saudi Arabian and the U.A.E. embassies for comment.