Mohammed bin Salman begins his first European tour after Khashoggi case

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began a two-day official visit to Greece on Tuesday before a stopover in France. This is his first visit to the European Union since the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Mohammed bin Salman's return to European soil The Saudi crown prince began his first visit to the European Union on Tuesday (July 26) since the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as part of a two-day official visit to Greece before a stopover in France on Thursday. with.

The official agency SPA wrote, citing a press release from the royal court, that Mohamed Ben Salman, better known as MBS, had "bilateral relations with the leaders of Greece and France and the means to strengthen them in various fields". should be discussed. Accompanied by three ministers and a large delegation of entrepreneurs, MBS arrived in Athens on Tuesday evening and met with the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Misotakis, before signing agreements on maritime transport, energy, defense technologies, waste management and culture. "The relations between the two countries are historic and we will have the opportunity to finalize a range of bilateral projects", said MBS at the beginning of his meeting with Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

One of them is the installation of an electric cable that will connect Saudi Arabia to Greece and provide much cheaper energy to Europe, MBS reported. They also talked about bilateral cooperation on hydrogen technologies and the project to turn Greece into "Europe's center for this technology". Discussions between the two leaders further focused on a proposed data transfer cable between Saudi Arabia and Greece, which would be "turned into a regional hub between Europe and Asia", officials said.

Greek diplomatic sources. The visit comes less than two weeks after US President Joe Biden's visit to Saudi Arabia, which coveted the crown prince's return to the international scene, in the context of the war in Ukraine and the boom in oil prices.' energy.

"highly symbolic" visits

Following the 2018 murder of important Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at his country's consulate in Istanbul, the kingdom's de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, was excommunicated by Western nations. US intelligence services have exposed the responsibility of MBS to poison relations between Riyadh and Washington.

The "fist bump", fist-to-fist exchange between two men in Jeddah during Joe Biden's visit, the abandonment by the US president of his campaign promise to treat the Saudi Kingdom as an "outcast" because of the Khashoggi case sealed up. and violation of its human rights. The Crown Prince's visit to Europe after this period of isolation is also "highly symbolic", commented Christian Coates Ulrichsson, research fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute. While there is no official coordinated stance against MBS, "the fact is that he has not visited any European or North American country since 2018", he said.

King Salman's son recently received a boost from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who visited Saudi Arabia in April and then hosted him in Ankara in June. Since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Western countries have been trying to persuade Saudi Arabia, the first exporter of crude, to open floodgates to relieve markets. Rising oil prices are fueling inflation in the United States, which has hit a 40-year high this year, putting pressure on its government ahead of the midterm elections.

Riyadh is resisting pressure from its allies, however, citing its commitments to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+), the oil alliance it co-leads with Moscow. In May, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud said the Saudis did what it could for the oil market. Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron received the new UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan in Paris.

On this occasion the two countries signed the "Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement on Energy Cooperation".

AFP. with