US President George W Bush last night described rising oil prices as 'troubling' and suggested that he planned to put pressure on oil exporters to cut prices.

Speaking in an interview with CNBC television, Bush said high petrol prices were beginning to squeeze US consumers. He also said the US needed to encourage more domestic oil and gas exploration and improve its refining capacity through regulatory changes.

Proposals covering these points are contained in an energy bill currently under consideration in the US congress.

At the same time, Bush ruled out the release of some of the US national strategic petroleum reserve as an option to lower prices.

'I will be talking to our friends to make sure if they pinch the economy too much, it will affect their ability to sell crude oil in the long run,' he said. Bush said he would raise the subject with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz when the prince visits Bush's Texas ranch on April 25.