Saudi Prince To Sign Deal With Greece For ‘Cheaper Energy’  

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced upcoming bilateral projects on a visit to Greece Tuesday, including a power cable between both countries to provide Europe with “cheaper renewable energy”.

Prince Mohammed landed in Greece on Tuesday on his first Europe trip since the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and is set to head to France later in the week.

At a press conference with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in the capital Athens Prince Mohammed commented at the historical opportunities between the two countries. This would include linking electricity grids to “provide Greece and southwest Europe through Greece with… much cheaper renewable energy,” he added.

The Greek foreign ministry said agreements on maritime transport, energy and defence technology among other things were due to be signed on Wednesday.

The crown prince got international condemnation for the October 2018  killing of Khashoggi’s and by Saudi agents in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.

Prince Mohammed’s trip to Europe comes less than two weeks after US President Joe Biden visited the Saudi city of Jeddah for a summit of Arab leaders and met one-on-one with the prince, greeting him with a fist bump.

That move sealed Biden’s retreat from a presidential election campaign pledge to turn the kingdom into a “pariah” over the Khashoggi affair and wider human rights controversies.

US intelligence agencies determined that Prince Mohammed, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, had “approved” the operation that led to Khashoggi’s death, though Riyadh denies this, blaming rogue operatives.

Prince Mohammed’s stay in Europe represents a “highly symbolic move past his post-Khashoggi isolation”, said Kristian Ulrichsen, a research fellow at the Baker Institute at Rice University.

“While there has not been any formal coordination of policy in the ‘West’ against Mohammed bin Salman since 2018, the fact is that he has not visited any European or North American country since Khashoggi’s killing,” Ulrichsen said.

Prince Mohammed has also received a recent boost from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who visited Saudi Arabia in April, then welcomed Prince Mohammed in Ankara in June.

Erdogan had enraged the Saudis by vigorously pursuing the Khashoggi case, opening an investigation and briefing international media about the lurid details of the killing.

But with ties on the mend, an Istanbul court halted the trial in absentia of 26 Saudi suspects linked to Khashoggi’s death, transferring the case to Riyadh in April.

Russia – Ukraine triggered a spike in energy prices earlier this year, Saudi Arabia came under pressure from the United States and European powers to pump more oil.

Elevated oil prices have been a key factor in inflation in the US soaring to 40-year highs, putting pressure on the Biden administration ahead of mid-term elections later this year.

But the world’s biggest crude exporter has resisted pressure to open the supply taps, citing its commitment to production schedules determined by the OPEC+ exporting bloc it co-leads with Russia.

In May, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan stated that the kingdom had done what it could for the oil market.

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