Boris Johnson set to visit Saudi Arabia as he hopes to wean West off Putin’s oil
In an effort to reduce dependence on Russian energy after the invasion in Ukraine, Boris Johnson has declared Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates “key international partners”, the PA News Agency reports.
With a controversial visit to the Gulf states tomorrow, the Prime Minister has argued that strengthening ties with the nations is necessary in order to tackle Vladimir Putin, Russia’s President.
Mr Johnson is set to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh days after the largest mass execution in modern history to take place in the kingdom.
He also has plans to visit the UAE’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi beforehand as both rulers’ records on human rights come under renewed scrutiny, the PA News Agency reports.
While the cost-of-living crisis is being compounded by the West weaning itself off Russia’s oil and gas, the Prime Minister is looking to increase the production of Gulf oil to relieve rising prices.
Critics have particularly questioned the strengthening of ties with Mohammed bin Salman since the Saudi leader was implicated in the assassination of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said that “going cap in hand from dictator to dictator is not an energy strategy”.
Before setting off on Tuesday evening, in a statement, Boris Johnson said: “The brutal and unprovoked assault President Putin has unleashed on Ukraine will have far-reaching consequences for the world, well beyond Europe’s borders.
“The UK is building an international coalition to deal with the new reality we face. The world must wean itself off Russian hydrocarbons and starve Putin’s addiction to oil and gas.
“Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are key international partners in that effort. We will work with them to ensure regional security, support the humanitarian relief effort and stabilise global energy markets for the longer term.”
Conservative MPs and human rights watchdogs are some of those who want the Prime Minister to question the nations on their track records since Saudi Arabia executed 81 people convicted of crimes ranging from killings to belonging to militant groups on Saturday, the PA News Agency reports.
The West has shunned Prince Mohammed bin Salman after US Intelligence alleged he ordered the murder of Mr Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, despite the Saudi ruler denying it.
Having said this, the prince and Mr Putin were seen to high five and have a laugh with each other at a G20 Summit during the month that followed the killing in October 2018.
Labour’s shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband said: “It is a sign of our vulnerability and energy insecurity as a country that the Prime Minister is going to Saudi Arabia to seek an increase in oil production, despite the appalling human rights record of the regime.
“Once again it demonstrates that the best solution to the energy crisis we face is a green energy sprint at home so once and for all we end of our dependence on fossil fuels.”
Boris Johnson, who will have Justice Secretary Dominic Raab step in for him at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, has argued that he needs to “build the widest possible coalition” to address Mr Putin’s invasion.
It’s expected that the Prime Minister will discuss the importance of allies increasing the diplomatic and economic pressure on the Kremlin while mitigating the global fallout of the war, the PA News Agency reports.
Downing Street expects Saudi Arabia’s alfanar group will confirm £1 billion of investment in the Lighthouse Green Fuels Project in Teesside during the trip, trying to produce sustainable aviation fuel from waste.
It is hoped that more than 700 jobs will be created by the project during construction and around 240 full-time jobs when it is fully operational.
Conservative MP Julian Lewis, who chairs Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, called on the Government to ensure that “in seeking to lessen our dependence upon one source of oil and gas, we do not end up creating a source dependency on another unreliable and sometimes hostile regime”.
Investment minister, Lord Grimstone will join Boris Johnson.
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