According to a report, Boris Johnson may travel to Saudi Arabia this week to lobby for action to keep oil prices down.
The British prime minister is considering a visit to lobby Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to increase the country’s oil output as energy sanctions on Russia begin to bite.
On Sunday, government minister Michael Gove did not deny a report in The Times on Saturday that Mr Johnson is to visit Riyadh this week.
“We have to rely on oil from several countries, many of whose human rights record we don’t approve of,” Mr Gove told Sky News.
“Saudi Arabia is a security partner of the United Kingdom. I think that there are human rights concerns. We’re clear about those.
“But we also recognize that at a time when the world is in a fragile situation, diplomacy alongside clarity on human rights is important.”
Britain and the US announced the end to Russian oil imports as sanctions against Moscow after it invaded Ukraine.
Downing Street has not offered details of Mr Johnson’s travel plans for the week ahead.
The fallout from the sanctions on Russia has sent prices of petrol and diesel in Britain to record highs, adding to a cost-of-living crisis as household heating bills also go up.
Mr Johnson last week said the UK and its allies were shifting away from dependence on Russian oil and gas to avoid being further “blackmailed” by President Vladimir Putin.
The Times reported that Mr Johnson was well placed to lobby Prince Mohammed, having kept ties with him recently. Their relationship continued despite the killing in 2018 of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
It said the group included people “convicted of various crimes, including the murdering of innocent men, women and children”.