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UK’s Johnson urges Saudi Arabia to raise oil output, minister says


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street in London, Britain March 9, 2022. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON (Reuters) -British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to increase its oil output, a senior minister said on Monday, following reports that Johnson would travel to the OPEC heavyweight this week.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have so far snubbed U.S. pleas to use their spare output capacity to tame rampant crude prices which threaten a global recession after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Saudi ties with the West are strained over a range of rights issues including the Yemen war and the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

The Times newspaper said that Johnson would travel to Saudi Arabia this week to try to persuade it to increase output, citing sources that said he had built good ties with the country’s leadership.

Asked if it was right to seek the support of Saudi Arabia, just days after it executed 81 men, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Britain had a frank relationship with the country but it was also “important to recognise, whether we like it or not, that Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s largest oil producers”.

“At a time of a major global energy crisis that has been caused by this war in Europe, it is right for the prime minister and other world leaders to engage with Saudi Arabia and try to work together where that makes sense,” he told Times Radio.

Oil prices shed as much as $4 a barrel on Monday, on hopes of diplomatic efforts to end the war in Ukraine, with Brent crude futures trading at $108.92 at 0752 GMT.

A spokesperson for Johnson’s Downing Street office declined to comment on the report that the prime minister would travel to Saudi Arabia this week.

Saudi Arabia executed 81 men including seven Yemenis and one Syrian on Saturday, the interior ministry said, in the kingdom’s biggest mass execution in decades.

UK’s Johnson urges Saudi Arabia to raise oil output, minister says

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