King Salman has become the first Saudi Arabian monarch to visit Russia on a trip being hailed as a landmark by both countries. The king met Russian President Vladimir Putin.
As CGTN’s Julia Lyubova reports, they discussed the Syrian conflict, oil and military contracts.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman got a royal reception inside the Kremlin’s opulent St. Andrew’s throne hall. It is the first official visit of a Saudi monarch to Russia and has been hailed by both governments as ‘historic’.
“Your Majesty, we are very happy to greet you here,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I am convinced that your visit will give a tremendous boost to the ties between our states.”
Relations between the two countries have often been strained. During the Cold War, the Saudis helped arm Afghan rebels against the Soviet Union. Today, Moscow and Riyadh back opposing sides in Syria’s civil war. However, relations have been improving in recent years, and Salman’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has held several meetings with Vladimir Putin.
“I want to say that throughout our relations, we share common views on many regional and international issues,” said King Salman. “We’re cooperating on all issues which help to increase the prosperity and security of our countries, as well as international peace and security.”
Despite their differences on Syria, the civil war was a major focus of the talks. The leaders said they are working together on uniting Syrian opposition. Analysts say King Salman’s trip highlights Russia’s growing power in the Middle East.
“Saudi Arabia’s king is trying to find, not only a political supporter of what he’s going to do in the future in Syria after the defeat of Islamic State,” explains Middle East and Central Asia political analyst Vladimir Sotnikov. “He’s also trying to look for a potential lucrative military market.
And the U.S., it seems to him I think, is not a very stable partner under the presidency of Donald Trump.”
Hit by the fall in oil prices since mid-2014, Russia and Saudi Arabia, along with other OPEC and non-OPEC countries, agreed in May to extend production cuts of around 1.8m barrels per day. Moscow and Riyadh pledged continued continue cooperation to stabilize the global oil market.
According to Russian officials, dozens of deals and contracts have been signed between Moscow and Riyadh during the King’s visit. They included nuclear industry, space and military agreements, featuring the sale of Russian S-400 missile defense systems.