Greece and Saudi Arabia have signed a deal to lend a Patriot air defense system to the Arab country to protect critical energy facilities, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said in statement.
Dendias and Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos met earlier with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhain in Riyadh.
“We signed an agreement to move a Patriot battery here in Saudi Arabia,” Dendias said in a press release, adding that he also signed a cooperation agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council.
“This is a big step forward for our country regarding the cooperation with the Gulf countries and also a contribution to the wider security of the energy sources for the West,” he added.
The U.S.-made Patriot system will be used to protect critical energy facilities in the kingdom, a Greek diplomat said.
Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which is battling a Saudi-led coalition that intervened in the country’s war in 2015, has stepped up drone and missile attacks on Saudi targets in recent weeks.
The Patriot system is designed mainly to counter high-altitude ballistic missile attacks, which the kingdom has often had to deal with since intervening in Yemen.
Greece has established the Hellenic Force of Saudi Arabia equipping it with a PATRIOT long-range anti-aircraft system to strengthen the air defense and missile protection of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The deployment includes two PATRIOT systems, technicians and personnel from the Greek Air Force.
This is part of the framework of the implementation of the international initiative “Integrated Air and Missile Defense Concept” (IAMD Concept), a Hellenic MoD release said today.
Saudi Arabia and Greek militaries are coming closer thanks to recent co-trainings in the framework of the exercises “Falcon Eye I” and “Falcon Eye II.” Besides the exchange of visits of the Chiefs of the Armed Forces, the recent first-time placement of a Saudi Defense Attaché in Athens as well as the repositioning of a Greek Defense Attaché in Riyadh, which mark the upgrading of military relations between the two countries.
The PATRIOT deployment to Saudi Arabia has to be seen in the context of increasing missile attacks by Yemeni Houthi forces against Saudi Arabian targets.
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