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Saudi Crown Prince to Visit Greece in First Trip to EU Since Khashoggi Killing

Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit Greece on Tuesday. Credit: Russian Presidential Executive Office

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit Greece next week and meet with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The two will likely sign several business deals between their countries.

It will be the Saudi leader’s first trip to a European Union nation since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

The CIA previously concluded that Prince Mohammed likely sent a hit squad to murder the Saudi journalist in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi had been an outspoken critic of the crown prince, Saudia Arabia’s de facto leader.

At the planned July 26th meeting, Prince Mohammed and Mitsotakis will sign pacts involving energy, military cooperation, and an underwater data cable, according to reports.

The Greek government confirmed the meeting but would not provide details about the substance of Prince Mohammed’s visit.

Greece and Saudi Arabia agree to collaborate on “East to Med data Corridor”

In late May, Greece and Saudi Arabia agreed to collaborate on an 800-million-euro ($816 million) land and subsea cable creating a data link from Italy to Singapore.

The “East to Med data Corridor,” an undersea and land data cable, will be developed by MENA HUB, owned by Saudi Arabia’s STC and Greek telecoms and satellite applications company, TTSA.

Greece’s power utility Public Power Company and Cyprus’ telecoms operator CYTA will also hold a stake in the project pending final corporate approvals. The deal was struck during the Greek-Saudi Business Forum held in Athens.

The October 2018 killing of Khashoggi, which US officials say was a direct order from the crown prince, put a freeze for a time on Saudi relations with the West. That has now thawed. 

In February 2020, the Greek PM visited Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with the aim of attracting investments and building alliances to counter Turkey’s expansionist policies in the eastern Mediterranean.

Recently, the Greece-Saudi Arabia Business Council was created, which was expected to strengthen the collaboration of the two countries’ business communities.

US President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia last week, where he greeted Prince Mohammed with a fist bump. It was seen as a way for the President to avoid looking too chummy with the crown prince, but was still criticized by those who believe he should not have met with the Saudi leader at all.

Biden, who has since tested positive for COVID-19 but whose condition was said to be improving, said he raised the issue of Khashoggi’s killing with Saudi leaders.

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