Johnson is meeting with leaders in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh to discuss energy, regional security and humanitarian aid as part of what Downing Street described as the UK’s efforts to fuel global action against the crisis in Ukraine.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during his visit to the Gulf region on Wednesday, declared a mission to build an international coalition against Russia and reduce dependence on its oil and gas exports in protest against the conflict with Ukraine. Johnson is meeting with leaders in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh to discuss energy, regional security and humanitarian aid as part of what Downing Street described as the UK’s efforts to fuel global action against the crisis in Ukraine.
Leaders are expected to discuss efforts to improve energy security and reduce volatility in global energy and food prices amid the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine. “The brutal and unprovoked attack that President Putin has unleashed on Ukraine will have far-reaching consequences for the world, far beyond European borders,” Johnson said before his visit.
“The UK is building an international coalition to face the new reality we face. The world must get rid of Russian hydrocarbons and starve Putin’s addiction to oil and gas. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are important international partners in this regard. We will work with them to ensure regional security, support humanitarian relief and stabilize global energy markets for the longer term,” he said.
Johnson will hold talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) before traveling to Saudi Arabia to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The focus of the visit is to emphasize the importance of working together to minimize diplomatic and economic pressure on President Vladimir Putin’s regime and the global impact of the conflict.
“Vladimir Putin has been like a pusher in recent years, fueling an addiction in western countries to his hydrocarbons,” Johnson told reporters before leaving the UK. “We need to get rid of that addiction,” he added.
In addition to possible measures to increase oil production, the visit is part of efforts to diversify Britain’s energy supply and work with international partners to ramp up renewables, Downing Street said. Saudi Arabia, the UK’s third largest diesel supplier, is committing to net zero emissions targets by 2060 ahead of the COP26 climate summit hosted by the UK in November last year.
As part of the visit, Saudi Arabia’s Alfanar group will confirm a new GBP 1 billion investment in the Lighthouse Green Fuels Project in Teeside, Northern England, with the aim of becoming the first company to produce sustainable aviation fuel on a large scale from waste in the UK. The project is expected to create more than 700 jobs during construction starting next year and around 240 full-time jobs once fully operational. Aviation fuel generated by the plant has the potential to produce 80 percent less greenhouse gas than the fossil fuel equivalent, Downing Street said.
Other strategic and regional issues, including the situation in Iran and Yemen, increased security cooperation, trade and investment, and support for human rights and civil society are also on the agenda of Johnson’s Gulf Tour. According to official data, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are among the UK’s two largest economic partners in the Middle East, with bilateral trade worth GBP 12.2 billion and GBP 10.4 billion respectively in 2020.
The UK is preparing to negotiate a trade deal with the wider Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which will boost trade and investment across the region. There are concerns in the UK about the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, including the controversial murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Defending his trip to the country, Johnson said his mission is to build “the strongest, broadest coalition possible” to ensure Putin does not succeed. Last week, the British government announced plans to end imports of Russian oil products by the end of 2022 and a possible ban on natural gas from the country. Western action against Russia has rocketed oil prices amid supply uncertainties.
This post British Prime Minister Boris Johnson calls on world to phase out Russian oil and gas
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