WASHINGTON The Obama administration said on Monday gasoline prices were still too high despite a decline at the pumps and that the government is in talks with international partners about high energy costs.
Rising fuel costs have stirred economic concerns and become a central theme in the U.S. presidential election race this year, prompting the administration to consider several options, including releasing emergency oil reserves, to tamp down prices.
Gasoline prices have dipped for three consecutive weeks, however, easing concerns that U.S. motorists could face $5 a gallon during the summer.
Asked about whether the drop in gasoline prices have lessened the need to tap U.S. emergency oil reserves, Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman said: "We are very focused on energy prices ... they are too high."
He said the administration is keeping "every tool available to us in a state that can be used. We are continually consulting with our international partners on this."
Britain and France have said they could partner with the United States if there was a release. Other countries such as Japan and South Korea may also join the plan.
Oil prices surged earlier this year as tensions with Iran escalated and sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program began to bite. But U.S. crude prices -- the primary influence on gasoline costs -- have fallen nearly 4 percent since late March and retail fuel costs have begun to slide.
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Bernard Orr and M.D. Golan)