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Gutierrez: Oil disaster averted in Saudi

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez hailed Saudi security for aborting a terrorist attack on oil installations and saving the world from an oil catastrophe.

Gutierrez told a press conference during a visit to Saudi Arabia late Sunday night that the security achievement by Saudi police in "aborting the terrorist attack" on the oil installation in Abqaiq, eastern Saudi Arabia, spared the world from an inevitable oil catastrophe.

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He said the complete transparency with which the Saudi authorities dealt with the incident had a positive impact in appeasing international oil markets and averting an oil disaster that would have harmed the global economy.

Gutierrez stressed that the oil-rich kingdom, which possesses the world's largest oil reserves, has made great strides in past years in combating terrorism and confronting enemies that seek to destroy its national resources and capacities.

He said the incident in Abqaiq fortunately did not result in upsetting international oil prices thanks to the firm and open response by Saudi authorities.

U.S. officials also cited burgeoning U.S.-Saudi relations in other domains -- spanning the economy, trade and cultural dialogue -- and stressed the importance of expanding commercial and technical exchanges, in addition to exploiting mutual investment opportunities in both the public and private sectors.

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Gutierrez also underlined the need to find solutions for current restrictions on U.S. entry visas for Saudi nationals to facilitate the flow of commercial exchanges without jeopardizing U.S. national security.

He added that U.S. visa restrictions had been imposed on most nationalities following the 9-11 attacks.

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