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Saudi Arabia Says it Will Not Allow Oil Shortages - 2004-04-02

A senior Saudi official paid a surprise visit to the White House Thursday, one day after OPEC announced a cut in oil production. The Saudi ambassador carried a message from his government.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan says his country will not allow any shortages in the world oil market. He also says Saudi Arabia is working with Washington to make sure higher energy prices do not have a negative effect on the world economy.

He came to the White House to meet with President Bush's national security and economic advisors. The session was not on Mr. Bush's official schedule, but the ambassador said the president joined the meeting.

He said he passed along a message from Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah on the OPEC decision, and offered reassurances to the Bush administration.

Saudi Arabia is a leading member of the oil cartel, and rising oil prices could become a source of tension between Washington and Riyadh. The current record-high prices for gasoline in the United States have already become a big issue in the presidential election campaign, with Democrats charging President Bush has not done enough to put pressure on OPEC.