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RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was set to embark on a visit to Greece and France Tuesday, state media reported, his first Europe trip since the 2018 killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Prince Mohammed will meet with the leaders of both France and Greece “to discuss bilateral relations and ways to enhance them in various fields,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing a statement from the royal court.

The trip comes less than two weeks after President Joe Biden visited the Saudi city of Jeddah for a summit of Arab leaders and met one-on-one with Prince Mohammed, greeting him with a fist bump.

That move sealed Biden’s retreat from a presidential election campaign pledge to turn the kingdom into a “pariah” over the Khashoggi affair and wider human rights controversies.

Saudi crown prince to visit Greece to sign energy, telecoms deals

US intelligence agencies determined that Prince Mohammed “approved” the operation that led to Khashoggi’s death, though Riyadh denies this, blaming rogue operatives.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered a spike in energy prices earlier this year, Saudi Arabia came under pressure from Washington and European powers to pump more oil.

Elevated oil prices have been a key factor in inflation in the US soaring to 40-year highs, putting pressure on the Biden administration ahead of mid-term elections later this year.

But the world’s biggest crude exporter has resisted pressure to open the supply taps, citing its commitment to production schedules determined by the OPEC+ exporting bloc it co-leads with Russia.

In May, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan stated that the kingdom had done what it could for the oil market.

Last week French President Emmanuel Macron received the new president of the energy-rich United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in Paris.

During that trip officials announced a deal between French energy giant Total Energies and UAE state oil company ADNOC “for cooperation in the area of energy supplies”.

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