U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that unless the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) started cutting oil production, Congress could force him to remove troops from the kingdom.
The call took place on April 2 and was exclusively reported by Reuters on Thursday, quoting four unidentified sources.
The pressure was key to a U.S. campaign for a global deal to cut oil output because of a drop in demand due to the coronavirus outbreak. Ten days after the call, the production cuts were announced.
The crown prince seemed surprised by Trump’s threat and immediately ordered his aides out of the room, according to a U.S. source briefed on the call.
A senior U.S. official told Reuters that the administration let Saudi leaders know that without the cuts, “there would be no way to stop the U.S. Congress from imposing restrictions that could lead to a withdrawal of U.S. forces.”
Reuters asked Trump if this, in fact, occurred during an interview at the White House on Wednesday evening, and he responded, “I didn’t have to tell him.”
“I thought he and President Putin, Vladimir Putin, were very reasonable. They knew they had a problem, and then this happened.”
Asked what he told the Saudi crown prince, Trump responded: “They were having a hard time making a deal. And I met telephonically with him, and we were able to reach a deal” for production cuts.