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.


Turkey’s largest media group to be sold to Erdogan ally

Syrian rebels reach evacuation deal in Eastern Ghouta town

Abbas calls US ambassador to Israel 'son of a dog'

UN says Turkey security measures 'curtail human rights'

'Saudization' taking its toll on salesmen

Exiled Syrian doctors treat refugees in Turkey

Ahed Tamimi reaches plea deal for eight months in jail

UN launching final push to salvage Libya political agreement

Conditions for displaced from Syria's Ghouta 'tragic': UN

Sisi urges Egyptians to vote, denies excluding rivals

Rights Watch says Libya not ready for elections

Saudis revamp school curriculum to combat Muslim Brotherhood

American mother trapped in Syria’s Ghouta calls out Trump

Syria workers say French firm abandoned them to jihadists

Grim Nowruz for Kurds fleeing Afrin

Sarkozy back in custody for second day of questioning

Israel confirms it hit suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007

Netanyahu says African migrants threaten Jewish majority

US Senate votes on involvement in Yemen war as Saudi prince visits

What a ‘limited strike’ against Syria’s Assad might mean

Natural gas in eastern Mediterranean fuels increasing tensions

Erdogan tells US to stop ‘deceiving’, start helping on Syria

IS controls Damascus district in surprise attack

French ex-president held over Libya financing allegations

NGO says Israeli army violating Palestinian minors’ rights

Human rights chief slams Security Council for inaction on Syria

US warns Turkey over civilians caught in Syria assault

Saudi crown prince keen to cement ties with US

Erdogan vows to expand Syria op to other Kurdish-held areas

Kurdish envoy accuses foreign powers of ignoring Turkish war crimes

Morocco authorities vow to close Jerada's abandoned mines

Israeli soldier sees manslaughter sentence slashed

Turkey insists no plans to remain in Afrin

Cairo voters show unwavering support for native son Sisi

Forum in Jordan explores new teaching techniques

Gaza Strip woes receive renewed attention but no fix is expected

Kurds, Syrian opposition condemn Afrin looting

36 jihadists killed in Egypt’s Sinai

Israel arrests French consulate worker for gun smuggling

Pro-Turkish forces loot Afrin

Israel prepares to demolish Jerusalem attacker's home

Saudi crown prince says his country to seek nuclear bomb if Iran does

Arab women artists in diaspora focus on identity and loss

Tunisia’s Central Bank targets inflation but may hurt growth prospects

Libya’s health system reflects a larger humanitarian crisis