ATHENS: Greece and Saudi Arabia remain committed to safeguarding the law of the sea and freedom of navigation, and they support freedom and stability in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Libya, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Tuesday after meeting his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Athens.
Dendias highlighted the deepening of bilateral relations in areas such as defense, trade, investments, energy and culture.
He also thanked Prince Faisal because a Saudi delegation will soon visit the city of Alexandroupolis in northern Greece to explore opportunities for investments.
The prince said he assured Dendias “that we are interested in enhancing our defense, cultural and trade relations with Greece,” adding that they emphasized the need to counter terrorism and strengthen stability in the region.
Arab News has been told that the two sides are working on a visit to Athens by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which will take place as soon as the pandemic situation allows.
According to diplomatic sources, this could be the occasion for the signing of a series of agreements on defense, investment and fighting crime.
Alexandros Papaioannou, spokesman for the Greek Foreign Ministry, told Arab News that Dendias “praised Vision 2030 and underlined the importance Greece attaches to this major project that will transform the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and expressed hope that Greece will be able to contribute.”
I held a fruitful meeting today with H.E @NikosDendias, we discussed relations between the Kingdom and Greece as well as enhancing joint coordination and bilateral action to support achieving prosperity and development. Enhancing our economic ties remains a key focus. pic.twitter.com/ytU4Z1tHo1
— فيصل بن فرحان (@FaisalbinFarhan) January 4, 2022
Papaioannou added: “The two ministers also discussed the Saudi candidacy of Expo 2030. In this regard, Greece underlined that it would consider in a positive spirit the Saudi candidacy, given the strategic nature of the relations between the two countries.”
He said the ministers “had an extensive discussion on the eastern Mediterranean, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Libya and Yemen, underlining the joint commitment to upholding the principles of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, as well as the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of third states.”
Prince Faisal’s visit to Athens is the latest development in the close relationship that Athens and Riyadh have initiated since 2019. They share a common vision on stability in the eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf.
bilateral relations in the fields of economy, investments & defence
cooperation within international organizations
developments in the #EasternMediterranean, the #Gulf region & #MiddleEast. pic.twitter.com/vkIPIkCffz
— Nikos Dendias (@NikosDendias) January 4, 2022
Prince Faisal described the talks as “fruitful” in a tweet following the meeting, and said: “Enhancing our economic ties remains a key focus.”
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis took part a few months ago in the Middle East Green Initiative Summit and met with the crown prince in Riyadh, where he also attended the Future Investment Initiative.
The first visit of Mitsotakis to Saudi Arabia was in February 2020, a few months after he became prime minister. He met with Prince Faisal at the Philia Forum in Athens in February last year.
Bilateral ties have deepened particularly in the field of defense, with the deployment of a Greek Patriot anti-aircraft missile system, or PAC-2, to Saudi Arabia in September to boost the Kingdom’s role in combating the Houthi militia in Yemen.
In addition, 120 Greek soldiers are stationed in Saudi Arabia to operate the PAC-2, which is set to be upgraded to the PAC-3 system.
Arab News has been told that Athens and Riyadh are exploring the possibility of signing a strategic partnership agreement as a basis for deepening their defense ties.