WASHINGTON – The Saudi ambassador to the United States on Wednesday denied any link between the U.S. presidential election campaign and a Saudi pledge to the Bush administration to push for lower oil prices.
There was "no quid pro quo," Prince Bandar bin Sultan (search) told reporters after a meeting with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice (search) about the latest terrorist strike in Saudi Arabia.
"I cannot say we're not aware that you are going through your seasonal tribal warfare now so it's very dangerous to open one's mouth here on any issue," said Bandar. "I hope Senator Kerry has heard my explanation about the oil and he can be assured that we didn't make any deals that could interfere in our friends' internal affairs."
CBS's "60 Minutes" reported Sunday that Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward (search) said Bandar promised Bush that Saudi Arabia will lower oil prices in the months before the election to ensure the U.S. economy is strong on Election Day.
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia denied accusations that it has an agreement with the White House to increase oil production closer to the Nov. 2 election, thus driving down gasoline prices.
"The allegation that the kingdom is manipulating the price of oil for political purposes or to affect elections is erroneous and has no basis in fact," said a statement issued in Riyadh by top Saudi foreign policy adviser Adel al-Jubeir.
Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, expressed outrage at the allegation.
"If it is true that gas supplies and prices in America are tied to the American election, tied to a secret White House deal, that is outrageous and unacceptable to the American people," Kerry said.