The White House “categorically” denied dissuading U.S. businesses and companies from attending the “Davos in the desert” in Saudi Arabia this week.
Reports were circulating that cited current and former U.S. officials suggesting the White House was trying to pressure U.S. companies against expanding business ties with Saudi Arabia. It comes amid a growing rift between Washington and Riyadh over the decision made by OPEC+ to slash oil output.
National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby was asked about potential consequences for U.S. businesses attending the conference in Riyadh this week. Kirby said the White House does not have a message for corporate leaders attending the conference.
After the OPEC+ group decided to cut oil output, the White House called the decision a mistake and said that the decision aligned with Russia.
Almost immediately after the decision to cut oil production, the White House said President Biden would “consult with Congress on additional tools and authorities to reduce OPEC’s control over energy prices.”
Kirby said there was no truth to reports that the U.S. was discouraging Americans from pursuing business ties in Saudi Arabia.
“It is absolutely, categorically false that we were talking to business leaders and trying to dissuade them from going [to the conference in Saudi Arabia],” Kirby said.
Washington has called for a reevaluation of the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Many congresspeople have called for an immediate halt to arms sales with Saudi Arabia.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said President Joe Biden would not rush to decide on what steps to take in response.
The White House has said that Riyadh is trying to “spin” the matter. Kirby said previously the U.S. is “reevaluating our relationship with Saudi Arabia in light of these actions.”