Blinken calls talks with UAE leader 'excellent,' did not focus on oil supply

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ALGIERS, March 30 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday he had an "excellent meeting" with the United Arab Emirates' de facto ruler in which they discussed the Ukraine war, one of several issues that Washington and its Gulf partners are not in full agreement on.

Blinken told reporters during a visit to Algeria that energy was not a focus of the talks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in neighboring Morocco on Tuesday, even though Washington wants Gulf nations to increase production to tame rampant crude prices, partly caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"We believe it's critical there be abundant supplies of energy on markets now and that there also be a steady supply, but as it happens we didn't focus on that issue specifically," Blinken told reporters.

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A senior State Department official who briefed reporters on the meeting said other U.S. officials had engaged with Emirati counterparts on the need to increase energy supplies.

Washington's Arab allies chafe at what they see as declining U.S. commitment to their region as the Biden administration has tackled crises in Ukraine, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The official said it was "no secret that there had been some difference of views" between the United States and the UAE but it was overblown to say there was a "crisis" in the relationship.

Blinken told reporters he had assured Sheikh Mohammed of Washington's commitment to the Middle East and of U.S. support against attacks from the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen. read more

"The Secretary (Blinken) I think was able to provide some sort of clarity that we are committed to the partnerships in this region," said the official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, adding that included deepening security co-operation to counter Iran's influence.

Washington wants its Arab allies to take a stronger stance against Russia over its assault on Ukraine by voting with the United States in the United Nations, joining Western sanctions or even sending security assistance to Ukraine.

Blinken said he had a "very constructive discussion" with the crown prince about Ukraine and said U.S. officials were following up with Emirati counterparts on several issues after Tuesday's talks.

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Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; writing by Simon Lewis; editing by Grant McCool and Sam Holmes

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