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Downing Street Claims Boris Johnson's Saudi Arabia Trip To Curb Energy Crisis Was Not About "Quick Fixes"

Boris Johnson has urged the west to end its "addiction" to Russian energy

3 min read

Downing Street has defended the Prime Minister's trip to Saudia Arabia after he failed to secure an agreement from the Gulf state to increase oil production.

Boris Johnson failed to secure an agreement with the leaders of Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia to increase oil production after a visit to the region.

Johnson had hoped to use the trip to persuade the oil-rich states to increase the flow of oil as part of efforts to drive down global prices which have soared following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Both petrol and diesel prices have seen their fastest rise since the start of the month, with motorists now paying record sums at the pumps, increasing pressure on households who are already facing an increasing cost-of-living crisis.

During his trip Johnson had met with Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Speaking earlier this week, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said he had "really hoped" there would be a deal reached during the trip. 

"We'll have to see what production levels come out of the Middle East," he said. 

"I really hope that production will step up to alleviate some of the pressure we've been seeing."

But after the Prime Minister returned to the UK empty handed, a Downing Street spokesperson insisted the trip was not about "quick fixes".

"This was a trip to galvanise discussions on how we diversify the use of energy globally following the invasion of Russia," they said.

"We need to fundamentally change the global energy architecture. This was not about quick fixes.

"Both the Crown Prince of the UAE and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia agreed to work closely with us to maintain stability in the energy market and continue the transition to renewable and clean technology."

The Prime Minister's trip to the region came as he urged other western countries to go further in reducing its "addiction" to Russian energy following Putin's attack.

Speaking before he left the country, Johnson said during his meeting with the Saudi ruler they had "talked about what we can do to stabilise oil prices, to fight inflation, to help consumers, to help people at the gas pumps, at the petrol pumps".

"A lot of agreement that it's important to avoid inflation, to avoid the damaging economic consequences, an agreement that we need to work together to bring peace to Ukraine.

"I thanked the Saudis for what they're doing – they joined the UN resolution in condemning what Russia has done. Both agreed that we need to see an end to Putin's war."

But Johnson refused to disclose the outcome of discussions about increasing oil production.

"I think you need to talk to the Saudis about that," he said.

"There was an understanding of the need to ensure stability in global oil markets and gas markets and the need to avoid damaging price spikes."

Johnson had faced criticism over the meeting with the Saudi ruler who has been accused of ordering the assasination of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the country's consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said that "going cap in hand from dictator to dictator is not an energy strategy" as he pressed for further action to tackle the cost of living crisis in next week's Spring Statement.

But Johnson insisted he had raised the "human rights issue" with the Saudi leader.

"It's best if the details of those conversations are kept private, they're more effective that way," he said.

"But I think you can also see that in spite of that news you've referred to today, things are changing in Saudi Arabia, we want to see them continue to change.

"That's why we see value in engaging with Saudi Arabia and why we see value in the partnership."

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