US senators hold call with Saudi officials urging them to put oil cut in motion

The discussion was led by members of the US Senate Armed Services Committee

FILE PHOTO: An employee rides a bicycle next to oil tanks at Saudi Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia October 12, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo
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US Republican senators from oil states who recently introduced legislation to remove American troops from Saudi Arabia said on Saturday that they had spoken to three officials from the Kingdom and urged them to take concrete action to cut crude output.

Saudi Arabia and Russia were close to finalising a deal with other producers in the informal Opec+ group to cut output by a record 10 million barrels per day (bpd), or about 10 per cent of global output.

Oil prices fell to 18-year lows as the coronavirus outbreak closed down economies across the world and after Saudi Arabia and Russia increased output in a race for market share.

The call was led by Senators Dan Sullivan and Kevin Cramer, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who introduced legislation in March to remove US troops, Patriot missiles and air defence systems from Saudi Arabia unless it cut output.

There were 11 Republican senators on the two-hour call, including Bill Cassidy, who introduced legislation last week to remove the US troops in 30 days, a month faster than the previous legislation.

They spoke to Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Deputy Defence Minister Khalid bin Salman, and Saudi Ambassador to the United States Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan.

Mr Sullivan, of Alaska, applauded Saudi Arabia for taking part in the agreement to cut output, but said "actions speak louder than words".

"The Kingdom needs to take sustainable, concrete actions to significantly cut oil production, and it needs to do so soon," Mr Sullivan said.

The United States, the world's top oil producer, is gradually cutting about 2 million bpd of output as reduced demand and low oil prices force some heavily leveraged producers into bankruptcy.

The legislation would have to pass the Senate, the House of Representatives and be signed by President Donald Trump to become law.

In January, the United States had 2,500 military personnel in Saudi Arabia.

In October 2019, Washington deployed about 3,000 troops there at a time of heightened tensions with Iran.

The Saudi embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

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