By Maha El Dahan
DAVOS, Switzerland – Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States said on Wednesday that maintaining the long-standing strategic partnership between Riyadh and Washington was “beyond critically necessary” for global stability.
The traditional alliance between Saudi Arabia and the United States has frayed under President Joe Biden’s administration over the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents, the Yemen war involving a Saudi-led coalition and more recently the Ukraine war and OPEC+ oil policy.
“Yes there was a moment of conflict and disagreement, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we are both strategic allies and we are friends, and this relationship is critical for the world,” envoy Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud said at a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been defiant in the face of U.S. ire over energy policy – which Saudi officials say has been vindicated by oil price stability – and pressure to help isolate Russia.
Washington has also voiced concern about Gulf Arab states’ growing ties with major trade partner China.
Saudi finance minister Mohammed al-Jadaan, when asked during the same panel about the visit by China’s president to the kingdom in December, said both China and the United States were very important to Saudi Arabia.
He said the kingdom, the world’s top oil exporter, aims to “bridge the divide” between the two rival economic giants.
While attending a Gulf Arab summit in Riyadh, President Xi Jinping called for oil trade in yuan as Beijing seeks to establish its currency internationally and weaken the U.S. dollar’s grip on world trade.
On Tuesday, Jadaan told Bloomberg TV that Saudi Arabia was not ruling out any discussions on how it settles its trade, whether in dollars, euros or the Saudi riyal, if that would help improve global trade.
The Saudi envoy to Washington stressed during the panel the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship that has weathered 80 years and said that the two countries have “stood by each other where it counts and where it matters”.