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US cancels key meeting with Saudi Arabia, GCC, says report

The Biden administration cancelled a meeting of the US-GCC Working Group on Iran, according to a letter obtained by news platform Semafor
Several lawmakers have introduced bills aimed at pulling US troops from Saudi Arabia and halting arms sales as well.
Several lawmakers have introduced bills aimed at pulling US troops from Saudi Arabia and halting arms sales as well (AFP/File photo)
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Washington

The Biden administration has cancelled a meeting between the United States and Saudi Arabia that was previously under review, the news platform Semafor reported on Tuesday, citing a letter from the American embassy in Riyadh.

The meeting that was reportedly cancelled was the US-GCC Working Group on Iran, which would have focused on integrated air and missile defence.

"The Embassy of the United States of America presents its compliments to the Gulf Cooperation Council Secretariat and hereby informs the Gulf Cooperation Council that United States officials will not be able to participate in the planned meetings of the United States - Gulf Cooperation Council Working Group on Iran Integrated Air and Missile Defense," the letter read, as reported by Semafor.

The cancelling of the meeting appears to be a major follow-through of the administration's announcement earlier on Tuesday, when national security spokesman John Kirby said the US would be reviewing its relationship with Saudi Arabia, following a decision by Opec+ to cut the production of oil by two million barrels a day.

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"I would expect that the multilateral, mid-level engagements you're referring to will be rescheduled at some point," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in response to a reporter's question during a news briefing on Tuesday.

"Our travel plans and circumstances often change. We have to be responsive to that. They'll be adjusted as we determine what's in our national interest."

Middle East Eye reached out to the White House for comment on the letter but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Semafor previously reported that the White House was discussing the idea of "possibly cancelling" the meeting, which was scheduled for 17 October in Riyadh.

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The Opec+ production cut has been met with outrage and condemnation in Washington, with lawmakers calling for major consequences, including recalibrating ties with Saudi Arabia, withdrawing military support and opening up the oil cartel to lawsuits in the US.

Several lawmakers have introduced bills aimed at pulling American troops from the kingdom and halting arms sales as well.

"This is a good time to reevaluate" the relationship with Saudi Arabia, Kirby told reporters on Tuesday.

But while the decision has been seen by Washington as Saudi Arabia working with its enemy Russia to help Moscow maintain oil profits during its war in Ukraine, Riyadh and Opec leaders say the decision was to help stabilise the market amid a recession and that it had no political motives.

Since the decision was made last week, oil prices have only risen a dollar. The national average price of regular gasoline in the US has increased by 10 cents a gallon since last week, according to data from AAA.

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