PM, Saudi Crown Prince talk business, regional issues

PM, Saudi Crown Prince talk business, regional issues

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis discussed bilateral cooperation issues Tuesday with the visiting Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman.

It is Mohammed bin Salman’s first visit to an EU country since the 2018 assassination, by Saudi agents, of journalist and Saudi regime critic Jamal Khashoggi inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi was strangled and his body dismembered with a saw.

Saudi Arabia admitted the murder was premeditated; the CIA concluded that it was Mohammed bin Salman who had ordered it, but he has denied the accusation.

After a period of being shunned, especially by western leaders, MBS, as he is widely known, has started coming out of an isolation that was never total. Mitsotakis met with him in Riyadh in October 2021; French President Emmanuel Macron and the outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also visited. Last month, the Saudi Crown Prince, considered the de facto ruler of the country while his father, King Salman, has been weakened by age and illness, visited Turkey and mended relations that had been disturbed by Khashoggi’s assassination. And, earlier in July, US President Joe Biden made the trip to Saudi Arabia, a trip derided by many critics as a pilgrimage made by a representative of a West in need of Saudi Arabia’s energy resources and influence in the global fossil fuels market.

Journalists were not invited to attend the meetings and were given no opportunity to ask the visiting Saudi royal questions.

Greek officials said both countries have a strong interest in further developing already strong bilateral relations and widening the “dynamically developing” relationship.

The two leaders signed an agreement setting up a Supreme Strategic Cooperation Council to implement bilateral cooperation.

Mitsotakis highlighted the importance of the East to Med Data Corridor (EMC project), a data cable link involving Greece, Cyprus and Saudi Arabia, worth a reported €800 million euros that would run under the Mediterranean Sea and be completed in 2025.

In remarks prepared in advance of the trip and distributed to reporters by the government, MBS said the two countries were working on a project that would make “Greece a hub for Europe in terms of hydrogen (fuel),” but gave no further details.

“I promise you that when I come to Greece, I’m not coming empty-handed. We have many issues that will be game-changers for both our countries and for the whole region,” bin Salman was quoted as saying.

The two leaders discussed the prospects of electricity transport from Saudi Arabia to the EU through Greece.

Mitsotakis also touted investment opportunities in tourist infrastructure, real estate, shipping, logistics, port infrastructure, noting the road and rail transport network serving the northeastern port of Alexandroupoli.

Officials also said the two leaders discussed international and regional developments, with Mitsotakis noting Saudi Arabia is a stable partner with an especially important role in the Gulf region and beyond.

After the two leaders’ one-on-one discussion, the two delegations sat together for further talks.

Taking part on the Greek side were Development and Investment Minister, Adonis Georgiadis, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, Citizen Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos, Culture and Sports Minister Lina Mendoni, Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy Kostas Fragogiannis, the Foreign Ministry’s Secretary General for International Economic Relations Yannis Smyrlis, the Director of the Prime Minister’s Diplomatic Office Anna-Maria Boura, Greece’sAmbassador to Saudi Arabia Alexis Konstantopoulos, National Security Advisor Thanos Dokos, Mitsotakis’ chief economic adviser Alexis Patelis and deputy government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni.

[AMNA, AP, Kathimerini]

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