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Saudis See No Reason to Raise Oil Production Now - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Kind Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz patronizes the finals of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Soccer Cup (SPA)

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Kind Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz patronizes the finals of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Soccer Cup (SPA)

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, (AP) – Saudi Arabian leaders made clear Friday they see no reason to increase oil production until their customers demand it, apparently rebuffing President Bush amid soaring U.S. gasoline prices.

During Bush’s second personal appeal this year to King Abdullah, Saudi officials stuck to their position that they are already meeting demand, the president’s national security adviser told reporters.

“What they’re saying to us is … Saudi Arabia does not have customers that are making requests for oil that they are not able to satisfy,” Stephen Hadley said on a day when oil prices topped $127 a barrel, a record high.

The Saudi government indicated that it is willing to put on the market whatever oil is necessary to meet the demand of its customers, Hadley said.

But even then, he said, Saudi leaders say increased production would not dramatically reduce pump prices in the United States.

The Saudis are investing in ways to increase oil production over time. Officials told Bush they are doing “everything they can do” for now to address a complicated market.

Hadley said the Bush administration will take the explanation back to its own experts and “see it if conforms.”

When Bush and Abdullah met in the kingdom in mid-January, the president also sought more Saudi output but got a chilly response to that plea. Saudi Arabia said it would increase production only when the market justified it and that production levels appeared normal.

Bush acknowledges that raising output is difficult because the demand for oil — particularly from China and India — is stretching supplies. Also, economists say prices are being driven up by increased demand, not slowed production.

High energy costs are a major drain on the U.S. economy, which is experiencing a slowdown that some think is already a recession. At the pump, gas prices rose to a national average of $3.78 per gallon on Friday, according to a survey of stations by AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

Beyond oil, Iran also dominated the meeting between the president and the king. The two shared a concern over the recent in violence in Lebanon, where Hezbollah overran Beirut neighborhoods last week. The display of military power by the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization, resulted in the worst internal fighting since the end of Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war.

Hadley said the leaders shared concerns the recent events would “embolden Iran.” The U.S. and Saudi Arabia, he said, “are of one mind in condemning what Hezbollah did in bringing pressure on the duly elected government of Lebanon.”

“Iran, working directly and through Syria, was very much behind what happened in Lebanon over the weekend and it is another example of Iran taking actions that are contrary to the interests of those in the Middle East who want peace, security and freedom,” Hadley said.

On Thursday, the Hezbollah-led opposition and U.S.-backed government reached a deal to end the violence after Lebanon’s Cabinet reversed measures aimed at reining in the militants.

US President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush take part in a tour of the Bible Lands Museum on May 16, 2008 in Jerusalem (AFP)

US President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush take part in a tour of the Bible Lands Museum on May 16, 2008 in Jerusalem (AFP)

U.S. President George W. Bush (R) and first lady Laura Bush wave before boarding Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv May 16, 2008 (REUTERS)

U.S. President George W. Bush (R) and first lady Laura Bush wave before boarding Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv May 16, 2008 (REUTERS)

President Bush sits with Saudi King Abdullah upon his arrival at the King's Villa at the Al Janadriyah Ranch in Riyadh, Saudi (AP)

President Bush sits with Saudi King Abdullah upon his arrival at the King’s Villa at the Al Janadriyah Ranch in Riyadh, Saudi (AP)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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