US President Donald Trump has said he told Saudi Arabia’s King Salman he would not last in power “for two weeks” without US military support.
"We protect Saudi Arabia. Would you say they're rich? And I love the King, King Salman. But I said 'King — we're protecting you — you might not be there for two weeks without us — you have to pay for your military,' said Trump at a rally in Southaven, Mississippi, on Tuesday.
Trump did not specify when he made the remarks to the Saudi monarch but they come on the back of increasing oil prices in the US.
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month, Trump accused OPEC members of “ripping off the rest of the world”.
"We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good. We want them to stop raising prices, we want them to start lowering prices,” he said.
A US Senate subcommittee will hear testimony on the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act or NOPEC, which would revoke OPEC's immunity from US legal action. The price per barrel was about $75 (€65) on Tuesday. It was around $50 (€43) a year ago.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s top oil exporter and the de facto leader of OPEC.
The Saudi state news agency SPA said Trump called King Salman on Saturday to discuss efforts to maintain supplies to ensure oil market stability and global economic growth.
But despite the Trump's comment, his administration has kept a close relationship with the Saudi kingdom. Saudi Arabia was the US leader's first stop during his first international tour as president last year.