Washington DC March 9 2022: The White House unsuccessfully tried to arrange calls between President Joe Biden and the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The outreach came as the US was working to build international support for Ukraine and contain a surge in oil prices.
Middle East and US officials told the newspaper that both Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the UAE's Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan both declined US requests to speak to Biden in recent weeks.
The Saudis want more support for their intervention in Yemen’s civil war, help with their own civilian nuclear programme, and legal immunity for Prince Mohammed in the US, according to Saudi officials cited by the WSJ.
The crown prince faces lawsuits in America, including over the 2018 killing of Washington Post columnist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi.
During his presidential campaign, Biden described Saudi Arabia as a "pariah" state, pledging to make it "pay the price" for human rights abuses.
Meanwhile, the UAE shares Saudi concerns about the restrained US response to recent missile strikes by Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen against the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the WSJ reports.