Saudi Arabia pledges to fight rising oil prices
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With OPEC planning to cut oil production, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States met Thursday with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and said Riyadh is committed to heading off problems in the world energy market.
"We will not allow shortages in the market because that will hurt the world economy, and Saudi Arabia does not live on the moon: When the world economy gets hurt, we get hurt also," Prince Bandar bin Sultan said after the White House meeting.
The prince said he conveyed a message from Crown Prince Abdullah for President Bush during the meeting.
"The president and the crown prince have been in touch on this subject for a while now. Both leaders feel strongly that higher energy prices have a negative impact on world economy," he said.
Bandar said Saudi Arabia would not allow oil shortages to cause an increase in prices.
He said Saudi Arabia, OPEC's most influential member, wants the price of oil per barrel to be between $22 to $28.
The 11-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed Wednesday to cut production by as much as 1 million barrels per day in April, which would make oil prices soar on the world market. (Full story)
The Bush administration sharply criticized OPEC's plan. (Full story)
"The president is disappointed in today's decision," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said at the time. "Producers should not take steps that harm American consumers and our economy."
Nationwide, the average price for a gallon of self-serve unleaded gasoline is at an all-time high of $1.77, according to a recent survey. (Full story)
Gas prices have quickly become a hot issue on the campaign trail.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry blames the White House's policies and its close relationship with oil companies for contributing to the high cost at the pump.
Kerry released a statement Wednesday night saying that because of what he called Bush's "arrogant foreign policy, the United States has lost credibility in the world." (Full story)
For its part, the Bush-Cheney campaign says Kerry once supported a 50-cent hike in the federal gasoline tax. (Full story)