German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is heading to the Middle East for a two-day visit to three countries aimed at striking new energy deals and building new alliances amid economic and geopolitical turmoil caused by the war in Ukraine, Reuters reports.
The German government is struggling to reject Russian energy resources. But there are fears that Germany, like other European countries, will face energy shortages in the coming months.
Bridging the natural gas supply gap is of particular concern, according to senior officials, and is one of the reasons Scholz is traveling to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar with a high-level business delegation.
Officials assured that Scholz will also address human rights issues during a meeting with Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah.
From Saudi Arabia, the German leader will fly to Abu Dhabi, where he will meet with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, and sign an energy agreement. Negotiations there will also focus on next year's UN climate talks in the country.
The final stop is Doha, where Scholz will meet with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to discuss bilateral relations, regional issues such as tensions with Iran and the upcoming World Cup in the Persian Gulf country.
German officials said all energy agreements would take into account the country's plans to become carbon-neutral by 2045, which would require a shift from natural gas to hydrogen produced by renewable energy sources in the coming decades. Saudi Arabia, which has vast regions suitable for cheap solar energy production, is seen as a particularly suitable supplier of hydrogen, they said.