2004 Transcript

Prince Bandar denies oil price 'deal' in ABC interview

Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan was interviewed on April 26, 2004 on ABC-TV's  'Good Morning America' by Claire Shipman, who asked about the alleged "deal" concerning oil prices. 

DIANE SAWYER: And now you're gonna hear from the man at the red hot center where your gas prices and politics meet. He is Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the US and there have been reports that the administration cut a secret deal with the ambassador in exchange for his support in the war with Iraq and Claire Shipman has more about that and gas prices. Claire?
CLAIRE SHIPMAN: (Off Camera) Good morning, Diane. Well, that allegation from Bob Woodward's latest book that the Saudi ambassador may have agreed to lower oil prices in time for Bush's re-election does have some legs and here's why. The Bush family does have a close relationship with the Saudi Royal Family, gas prices are high, Bush needs a good economy to help him get re-elected and Kerry has been making hay of it all on the campaign trail. So is it true? Well, the Saudi ambassador put his legendary diplomatic skills to work here.

CLAIRE SHIPMAN: (Off Camera) Did you promise the President and the White House that you would lower oil prices in time for the election?

PRINCE BANDAR BIN SULTAN: We promised the President that we would work to lower -oil prices, period. Election is not, was not discussed nor was it part of the discussion.

CLAIRE SHIPMAN: (Voice Over) Do you think between now and election day we'll see the price per barrel drop?

PRINCE BANDAR: I hope you will see the prices of oil drop sooner than that. And I hope when they drop to 25 or that range, it will stay that way for the next six years, not just one year or a few months.

CLAIRE SHIPMAN: (Off Camera) Certainly you see if the prices come down this summer, that could be a big boost to the White House's re-election efforts.

PRINCE BANDAR: Oh, yes, and I think this town is not short of conspiracy theorists, but we don't have as much influence on oil prices as people think.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's my prayer that Americans are not being held hostage to a secret deal between the White House and a Saudi prince.

CLAIRE SHIPMAN: (Voice Over) Well, Senator Kerry, for example, has started to use the idea of the cozy relationship that he says exists between your family and the Bush family as a political weapon, as part of his stump speech. Does that surprise you?

PRINCE BANDAR: I'm willing to have cozy relationships with Senator Kerry and his family. I had a very friendly relationship with President Clinton and his family. We like American presidents and we work with them and we have been always bipartisan.

CLAIRE SHIPMAN: (Off Camera) So it's all about, according to the ambassador, institutional coziness, not partisan coziness, and of course, Diane, the episode points up yet again the strange and often complicated nature of the US-Saudi friendship.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) It sure is multi-layered. Thank you, Claire Shipman. Charlie?