US Vice President Dick Cheney, completing a two-day stay in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, discussed a broad range of topics including Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Mideast peace process and the energy markets with Saudi King Abdullah on Saturday.
They President Bush had urged the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase production during his trip to Saudi Arabia in January, saying it was a mistake to have the economies of its largest customers slowing down as a result of higher energy prices.
The oil-producing nations ignored Bush's request. The White House said it disagreed with OPEC's decision to rebuff that request, and that the oil-producing nations themselves could be hurt by gas
prices that are more than $3 a gallon.
Later Saturday, Cheney was traveling to Israel for a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. On Easter Sunday, after attending a church service, Cheney will head to the West Bank for talks in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Cheney spokeswoman Lea Ann McBride said Bush asked the vice president to visit Israel to discuss significant regional issues in advance of the president's return trip in May to mark the 60th anniversary of the modern state of Israel.
"The vice president's discussions will involved the ways forward in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Israel's right to defend itself against terrorism and protect its citizenry," she said. "The vice president
also looks forward to visiting the Palestinian territories to reaffirm the president's commitment to the current efforts towards the two-state solution and efforts to strengthen Palestinian institutions."
Global oil market
Cheney and the Saudi king discussed some short-term, but mostly medium- to long-term ways, to affect the energy market, a senior administration official said. The official spoke on conditions of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on what he called private and influential talks.
In Iraq on Monday, Cheney had noted that there currently is very little spare capacity in the global oil market. He said the declining value of the US dollar was putting upward pressure on oil prices as well as increasing demand for oil in China, India and in the oil producing nations themselves.
On Friday, the vice president, his wife, Lynne Cheney, and daughter, Liz, were greeted at the farm by the fragrant smell and smoke of burning oil, which is used for special events. Cheney and the king shared more tea and the vice president was given a King Abdul-Aziz green sash and certificate, the highest honor awarded to a deputy head of state.
Cheney's national security adviser, John Hannah, said that Bush had asked Cheney to return to Saudi Arabia to talk to King Abdullah about US-Saudi issues and to do a comprehensive review of the situation in the Middle East.