US President Donald Trump had warned Saudis earlier in April that he would end American military support for the kingdom if Riyadh did not end its oil price war with Russia and cut production.
In a phone call on April 2, Trump told Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that unless his country started cutting oil production, he would be unable to stop lawmakers from passing legislation to withdraw US troops from the kingdom, Reuters reported Thursday, citing four sources familiar with the matter.
The US president also publicly threatened in early April to impose tariffs on oil imports from Saudi Arabia and Russia.
The threat to suspend a 75-year strategic alliance between Washington and Riyadh has not been previously reported.
The crown prince was so shocked by Trump’s threat that he ordered his aides to leave the room so he could continue the discussion in private, a US source who was briefed on the discussion told Reuters.
A senior US official told Reuters that the administration notified Saudi leaders that, without production cuts, “there would be no way to stop the US Congress from imposing restrictions that could lead to a withdrawal of US forces.”
Trump delivered the message to bin Salman, the monarchy’s de facto ruler, 10 days before OPEC and non-OPEC partners agreed to cut output by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) for May and June.
The fast-growing coronavirus pandemic has crushed demand for crude oil, decreasing the prices.
Despite the agreement to cut a tenth of global production, oil prices continued to fall to historic lows. US oil futures dropped below $0 last week as sellers paid buyers to avoid taking delivery of oil they had no place to store.
Brent futures, the global oil benchmark, fell towards $15 per barrel, a level not seen since the 1999 oil price crash, from as high as $70 at the start of the year.
Low prices have been wreaking a havoc with US shale industry which involves higher costs.
The week before Trump’s phone call with bin Salman, US Republican Senators Kevin Cramer and Dan Sullivan had introduced legislation to remove all US troops and missile systems from the kingdom unless Saudi Arabia cut oil output.
Separately, a group of nearly 50 Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives signed a letter on April 8, warning the monarchy’s de facto ruler of “reciprocal responses” if Riyadh refused to cut crude oil output.
-Trump warned Saudis