Greece, S Arabia to sign energy deal, says crown prince

Wednesday, Jul 27, 2022

ATHENS: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Greece on Tuesday and is due to head to France later in the week, his first Europe trip since the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Greece and Saudi Arabia will sign a deal in renewable energy and discuss other investments and security, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Tuesday in a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens.

The trip 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 Prince Mohammed, 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.

Accompanied by three ministers and a large business delegation, Prince Mohammed held talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens, footage broadcast live by Greece’s ERT public television showed.

At the start of the meeting, Prince Mohammed said the two countries would finalise a series of bilateral projects, including the installation of an electricity cable linking Saudi Arabia to Greece which will provide Europe "with much cheaper energy", he said.

On Wednesday, agreements on maritime transport, energy, defence technology among other things are due to be signed, according to a statement by the Greek foreign ministry.

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 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.