Saudi king in historic first visit to Russian Federation for talks with Putin

Marie Harrington
October 7, 2017

Several investment deals, including those relating to a liquefied natural gas project and petrochemical plants would be signed during the visit.

King Salman's four-day trip to Russian Federation is the first time a Saudi monarch has paid an official visit to Moscow following decades of frosty relations.

We had a certain reduction in trade between both nations, but I think that it was partly due to subjective reasons, Putin said.

"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.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (center R) and Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (center L) attend a welcoming ceremony ahead of their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on October 5, 2017.

The two also diverge on Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition military intervention in the country has killed more than 10,000 people since 2015, drawing criticism from Moscow and the global community. During Cold War times, the Saudis helped arm Afghan rebels fighting against the Soviet invasion. "Now everyone is concerned about the situation in Iraq, the situation with the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan".

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Speaking alongside Lavrov, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that Moscow and Riyadh agreed on the need to preserve Syria's territorial integrity. King Salman paid back the compliments by saying Russian Federation was a "friendly country".

In a sign of the improving relationship, Saudi Arabia signed preliminary agreements with Russian Federation to buy S-400 air defence systems, as well as anti-tank weapons and multiple-rocket launchers, the Saudi Arabian Military Industries said.

The King was greeted in Kremlin by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The memorandum of understanding includes the transfer of technology for the local production" of the Kornet anti-tank guided missile systems, advanced multiple rocket launchers and automatic grenade launchers, said Sami.

The visit comes after decades of tensions, most recently over the war in Syria, where Saudi Arabia had backed the Sunni rebels fighting to oust President Bashar Assad, while Iran had teamed up with Russian Federation to strengthen his control.

The pact on cutting output by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) took effect in January this year. The deal, since extended to March 31, 2018, was aimed at reducing a global oil glut that had seen crude prices plummet from over $100 a barrel in 2014 to a 13-year low of under $30 last year.

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