(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. made its most direct intervention yet in the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, urging Riyadh to “rise to the occasion and reassure” energy markets at a time of economic uncertainty.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo spoke to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the eve of a conference call between the leaders of the Group of 20 on the global pandemic and its economic fallout.
“The secretary stressed that as a leader of the G20 and an important energy leader, Saudi Arabia has a real opportunity to rise to the occasion and reassure global energy and financial markets when the world faces serious economic uncertainty,” the State Department said on Wednesday.
Oil prices have plunged as the Russian-Saudi price war compounded the unprecedented hit to consumption from the coronavirus pandemic. Futures pared losses after news of Pompeo’s call, with Brent crude little changed near $27 a barrel.
Read more: Why OPEC-Russia Blowup Sparked All-Out Oil Price War: QuickTake
The U.S. view is that the oil glut aggravates an already difficult economic outlook, and it wants all nations to work together to reassure energy markets, according to an official who asked not to be named. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are in close cooperation about how to improve conditions for growth, the official said.
“This diplomacy matters,” said Jason Bordoff, director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University and a former oil official at the White House. “Both Republican and Democrat White House administrations have asked Saudi Arabia to help the global economy during crises, and in the past they’ve responded.”
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