On Tuesday, the National Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos and the Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias arrived in Saudi Arabia to discuss the deployment of a Greek missile system in the country.
The ministers are expected to hold a series of talks with multiple members of the Saudi Arabian government in Riyadh.
Meetings with high-ranking officials
Dendias will be meeting with multiple high-ranking government officials. This impressive list includes the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the State Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Panagiotopoulos will also be conducting talks with the Deputy Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Greek missiles to be deployed in Saudi Arabia
These meetings with Saudi officials are expected to culminate in the signing of a new agreement between Greece and Saudi Arabia. Use of the Greek Patriot air missile system is desired by the Saudi Arabian government in order to protect its energy infrastructure.
Talks regarding the use of these defensive missiles began in October 2019 after the Yemeni strike on state-owned company Aramco in Saudi Arabia on September 14.
In February of 2020, government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters that the deployment will “strengthen our ties to Saudi Arabia.” He was also quick to highlight the defensive nature of the missiles, maintaining that they do not pose any threat to neighboring countries.
Plans for the operation of Greek missiles in Saudi Arabia
The Saudi Arabian government will purchase the missiles, but they will be deployed by Greek defense personnel. The program under which the Greek government is selling the missiles to Saudi Arabia also involves input from the US, UK, and French governments.
The Saudis will cover transportation and operation costs of the Patriot battery from Greece, and will also finance the upgrade of the Greek anti-aircraft systems to the PAC-3 version.
Greece’s agreement with Saudi Arabia will include contracts for all necessary Air Force personnel, with at least 40 officers and non-commissioned officers being transferred to the Gulf country to oversee the deployment and use of the Patriot system.