By Humeyra Pamuk
ALGIERS (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday he had an “excellent meeting” with the de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates during which they discussed the war in Ukraine, one of many issues that Washington and its Gulf partners are not in full agreement on.
Blinken told reporters during a visit to Algeria that energy was not the focus of talks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in neighboring Morocco on Tuesday, even though Washington wants Gulf countries to increase production to rein in soaring crude prices, partly caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We believe it is essential that there are now abundant supplies of energy in the markets and that there is also a stable supply, but it turns out that we have not specifically focused on this issue”, Blinken told reporters.
A senior State Department official who briefed reporters on the meeting said other US officials had discussed with their Emirati counterparts the need to boost energy supplies.
Washington’s Arab allies are chafing at what they see as a decline in US engagement in their region as the Biden administration tackles crises in Ukraine, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The official said it was “no secret that there had been some divergence of views” between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, but it was a stretch to say there was a “crisis “in the relationship.
Blinken told reporters he assured Sheikh Mohammed of Washington’s commitment to the Middle East and American support against attacks by Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen.
“I think the secretary (Blinken) was able to provide some sort of clarity that we are committed to partnerships in this region,” said the official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, adding that this included deepening security cooperation to counter Iranian influence.
Washington wants its Arab allies to take a tougher stance against Russia in its assault on Ukraine by voting with the United States at the United Nations, joining Western sanctions or even sending security aid to Israel. Ukraine.
Blinken said he had a “very constructive discussion” with the crown prince about Ukraine and said U.S. officials were following their Emirati counterparts on several issues after Tuesday’s talks.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by Simon Lewis; Editing by Grant McCool and Sam Holmes)