First Published: 2017-10-06

Jubeir: Russia-Saudi ties have reached historic moment
King Salman, Russian President clinch billion-dollar energy, arms deals on Saudi leaders landmark visit to Russia.
Middle East Online

Closer cooperation

MOSCOW - Saudi Arabia's King Salman, on a landmark visit to Russia, and President Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed a slew of arms and energy deals as the key US ally seeks to deepen cooperation with Moscow.

The leaders of the world's largest energy exporters discussed an extension of an OPEC agreement to cap oil output and oversaw the signing of deals which officials said were worth billions of dollars.

Saudi Arabia signed preliminary agreements to buy Russia's S-400 air defence systems and anti-tank guided missile systems and receive "cutting edge technologies," said the Sunni state's military firm, Saudi Arabian Military Industries.

The two countries also signed a series of multi-billion dollar investment deals including one to create a $1 billion fund to pursue energy projects.

"This is the first visit by a Saudi Arabian monarch in the history of our relations and that in itself is a landmark event," Putin said as he welcomed 81-year-old King Salman to Moscow in an ornate gilded Kremlin hall.

"I'm sure your visit will boost the ties between our countries," Putin added.

"We aim to strengthen our relations in the interests of peace and security, in the interests of developing the world economy," the Saudi king responded.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told journalists that "relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia have reached a historic moment."

"Today we alone as the Russian Direct Investment Fund announced deals worth $2.1 billion," said Kirill Dmitriyev, the head of the fund set up to attract investment.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said agreements came in the fields of "energy -- not only traditional but also nuclear power -- and also in cooperation in space exploration (and) agroindustry and infrastructure projects."

- 'Diversifying risks' -

Saudi Arabia is the country that buys the most US arms and Washington and Riyadh in May announced a $110 billion deal to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia.

But Saudi, a long-standing ally of Washington, is keen to boost ties with Moscow as a major player in the Syrian conflict and a fellow oil producer with shared interests in supporting energy prices.

"We are certain that further strengthening of relations will have a positive effect on strengthening stability and security in the world," his Saudi counterpart Jubeir stressed.

Fyodor Lukyanov, the Kremlin-connected chairman of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, said Riyadh saw closer ties with Moscow as expedient for the moment, and was "diversifying risks" by buying arms from both Moscow and the US.

"Saudi Arabia has recognised Russia as a significant player in a region that is important to it," he said.

"They respect Russia more now. But you shouldn't think it's forever."

- Oil cap for 'stability' -

The leaders of the world's largest energy exporters also discussed the OPEC agreement to cap oil output.

OPEC members have joined with Russia and other countries in cutting crude output in a pact that has helped prop up prices.

"We strive to continue the positive cooperation between our countries to achieve stability on world oil markets which promotes the growth of the world's economy," Salman said.

Russia and Saudi Arabia are heavily dependent on oil exports and the global plunge of the price of crude that began in 2014 lashed both their economies.

Putin said on Wednesday it was possible to extend an OPEC deal to cap oil output "at least until the end of 2018".

- Focus on Syria, Yemen -

While Russia and Saudi Arabia are partners on the oil market, they are at loggerheads on Syria, where Moscow supports President Bashar al-Assad and Riyadh backs the opposition.

Lavrov said the Saudi monarch and Putin's meeting saw a "particular focus on Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen."

The two sides said they had common ground in a desire to rally Syrian opposition forces to take part in UN-backed peace talks.

Jubeir said that the countries "closely cooperate... on uniting the Syrian opposition and broadening its framework, in order to start the political process" at Geneva peace talks.

 

France, US clash with Iran over changing nuclear accord

Syria donors fall short of UN target without US aid

Same family names in Lebanon election

Turkey jails opposition daily journalists

Iraq’s ex-football stars from sports to politics

Morocco king visits police headquarters in Temara

Western powers dismiss claim that Syria chemical attack was staged

US defense secretary says 'no decision' yet on Iran deal

Israel flash floods leave several young people missing

Highs and lows in Egypt’s Operation Sinai

416 donors to IS identified in France

Five migrants die trying to cross Mediterranean

Rights architects nominated for UK art prize

In Iraq's Anbar, election offers chance to settle scores

Philippines demands explanation after Kuwait expels ambassador

UK ‘seeking information’ over British-Iranian’s arrest

Macron says Trump may pull out of Iran nuclear deal

Turkey opposition journalists demand acquittal in terror trial

UN says Syria blocking humanitarian aid to Douma

OPCW experts visit second site of alleged Douma gas attack

Israeli policeman gets 9 months jail for killing Palestinian

US court rules for Arab Bank in precedent-setting case

Lebanese candidates pay hefty price for media coverage

Madani’s resignation sheds light on Iranian power play

Kuwait expels Filipino ambassador over treatment of workers

Syria aid donations for 2018 fall short of amount hoped

Growing anti-war sentiment in the US Congress could spell trouble for Trump

Liverpool’s Salah wins Israeli defence minister’s plaudits

Body of assassinated Palestinian driven through Malaysian capital

'Gap in perceptions' threatens wider Middle East war

UNESCO picks Morocco for project on prevention of violent extremism

Syrian regime retakes region near Damascus from rebels

Mogherini: Iran deal 'needs to be preserved'

Syria rebels prepare as Assad sets sights on next target

Iran's Rouhani questions 'right' to seek new nuclear deal

Iraq's Shiites split ahead of crucial vote

EU to Russia, Iran: Bring Syria to peace talks

Trump, Macron call for 'new' nuclear deal with Iran

Saudi Arabia claims killing of Yemen rebel leader

Syria's Idlib 'big new challenge' for international community

UNRWA chief says Palestinian aid $200 million short since Trump cuts

Bad memories resurface at Raqa’s mass grave

Turkey newspaper chief slams journalist terror trial

Setback for Yemen rebels after strike takes out leader

Saudi issues Islamic sukuk sale to finance deficit