Boris Johnson declined to say whether his trip to Saudi Arabia would lead to an increase in oil production in the kingdom – as he insisted that his human rights talks would be “closed”.
The Prime Minister on Wednesday visited the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, continuing efforts in reduce the West’s dependence on Russian oil and gas after Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.
Mr Johnson opposed the West’s “commitment” to Russian energy and called on allies to help inflict an additional financial blow on the Putin regime by reducing consumption of Kremlin-controlled supplies.
The surge in oil and gas prices has also raised concerns about the cost of living crisis in the UK.
However, in an effort to persuade the Middle East to increase its own energy production if the West seeks to secede from Moscow, Johnson has faced accusations of shifting from one repressive regime to another with a bad human rights reputation.
Speaking in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Wednesday night, Mr Johnson refrained from discussing whether his talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which lasted about an hour and 45 minutes, led to the kingdom’s progress in increasing its own oil production.
“We discussed everything you expect, so I raised human rights, but we also talked about what we can do to stabilize oil prices, fight inflation, help consumers, help people at gas stations, at gas stations,” he said. said.
“There is a lot of agreement on what is important to avoid inflation, to avoid harmful economic consequences, an agreement that we need to work together to establish peace in Ukraine.
“I thanked the Saudis for what they were doing – they joined the UN resolution in condemning what Russia had done. Both agreed that we should see an end to Putin’s war. “
After a “productive conversation” with the Crown Prince, the Prime Minister added that Saudi Arabia is interested in ensuring that the global economy does not suffer from the current jumps, that we do not “do not get the inflation we saw in the 1970s, we do not see stagflation ”.
But when asked if it meant an agreement on oil production, Mr Johnson replied: “I think you need to talk to the Saudis about it, but I think there was an understanding of the need to ensure stability in world oil and gas markets and the need to avoid harmful price jumps.
“And the strong world economy, the strong UK economy that we have, continuing the strong UK economy, is also very much in the interests of oil-producing countries.”
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The Saudi Crown Prince is also largely avoided by the West after the assassination of journalist Jamal Hashoghi in 2018, whose order he is accused of.
Just over three years ago, Mr Johnson himself called Hashoghi’s assassination a “barbaric act” and suggested that the Saudi state had “copied Vladimir Putin’s plays” with “ostentatious horror of the assassination”.
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However, the prime minister declined to disclose what he was discussing with human rights in Saudi Arabia during talks with the Crown Prince of the Kingdom on Wednesday.
“I always raise human rights issues, as the British prime ministers have done to me from time to time,” he said.
“It’s best if the details of these conversations are closed so they’re more effective.
“But I think you also see that despite this news that you talked about today, everything is changing in Saudi Arabia, we want it to continue to change.
“And that’s why we see value in working with Saudi Arabia and why we see value in partnership.”
Mr Johnson also declined to say whether he was dissatisfied with recent developments in Saudi Arabia, adding: “I have expressed the long-standing opinion of the UK government, as expected.”