UK's Johnson fails to secure oil promise after talks with Saudi, UAE

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks with Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 16, 2022. (Reuters photo)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has failed to secure commitments from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ramp up their oil production.

Johnson flew into Riyadh on Wednesday and met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler. Prior to that meeting, the British premier flew into the UAE and held talks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, at Al-Shati Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, March 16, 2022. (Reuters photo) 

His visits were aimed at persuading the two Persian Gulf states to increase their oil output amid rising prices as energy sanctions on Russia have begun to hurt the West.

When asked whether the kingdom would increase oil production, the premier said, "I think you'd need to talk to the Saudis about that.”

He then said he had obtained an “understanding” from the Saudis that the instability was not in their interests. “I think there’s certainly an understanding that there’s an interest for Saudi Arabia – for all oil-producing and exporting countries – in making sure that the global economy is not damaged by the current spikes, that we don’t get the kind of inflation that we saw in the 1970s, we don’t see the stagflation.”

The energy talks come amid a global spike in energy prices driven by tight supplies, Russia’s military operation in Ukraine and western attempts to reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas.

The UK government and the administration of US President Joe Biden announced earlier last week that they will no longer import any energy resources from Russia, which is the world’s largest producer of oil after Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, the British authorities have started to worry as fuel prices have seen a staggering rise across the country.

Johnson’s decision to meet the Saudi crown prince also comes on the heels of mass executions by the Saudi government earlier this week, which have sparked anger and outrage across the world.

The kingdom executed 81 prisoners in a single day over so-called “terror-related offenses,” in what rights groups have dubbed the largest mass execution in recent memory.

On Wednesday, human rights activists gathered in front the Saudi Embassy in London to protest the executions as well as the country’s ongoing onslaught against Yemen.

Rights group Amnesty International UK has criticized the PM’s visit to Saudi Arabia, saying he should instead challenge the crown prince over the mass executions and a 10-year travel ban slapped on blogging rights activist Raif Badawi.

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