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British PM meets Saudi, UAE leaders as war roils oil prices

ABU DHABI (AFP) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson began lobbying Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to pump more oil to calm markets roiled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as he met the Gulf states’ leadership yesterday.

Johnson arrived in Abu Dhabi for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and was then due to fly to Riyadh as the West seeks to end its dependency on Russian oil following the invasion of Ukraine.

Johnson will also meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he becomes one of the few Western leaders to visit Riyadh since 2018.

He said the visit was also aimed at increasing investment in the United Kingdom (UK) green energy, including the announcement of GBP1 billion (EUR1.2 billion) from Saudi Arabia’s alfanar group for a project to produce sustainable aviation fuel from waste.

“It’s not just a question of looking at the OPEC countries and what they can do to increase supply, though that is important,” Johnson told British media.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson inspects the honour guard as he arrives at Abu Dhabi airport for his visit to the United Arab Emirates yesterday. PHOTO: AP

“When we look at the dependency the West in particular has built up on Putin’s hydrocarbons, on Putin’s oil and gas, we can see what a mistake that was because he’s been able to blackmail the West.”

Johnson’s spokesman said he would also ask Prince Mohammed to condemn Russia’s President Vladimir Putin over the assault on Ukraine.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which are two of the world’s biggest oil exporters and both have ties to Moscow, have so far avoided taking a position against Russia.

But Johnson said before leaving that the impact of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “brutal and unprovoked” assault will be felt far beyond Europe.

He said that as Western sanctions begin to bite, a new international coalition was needed to offset their impact on consumers already feeling the pinch from rising inflation and increases in the cost of living.