Saudi king makes historic visit to Russia

Saudi king makes historic visit to Russia
By Catherine Hardy  with REUTERS

Salman bin Abdulaziz is on an historic first visit to Russia by a monarch of the Gulf kingdom.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has held talks with the king of Saudi Arabia.

Salman bin Abdulaziz is on an historic first visit to Russia by a monarch of the Gulf kingdom.

What are they talking about?

They are trying to reach agreement on whether to extend a deal on oil supplies.

What is the insight?

The Saudi courtship of Russia reflects a convergence of interests between the world’s two largest oil exporters as the output pact between OPEC and non-OPEC producers has spurred a recovery in crude prices.

The trip is also a recognition by Riyadh of the changing political balance in the Middle East after Putin successfully countered indecisive US efforts to topple Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

What has Putin said?

That the Kremlin summit is a “landmark event” that will give a good impetus to bilateral relations.

“Is there really anything in the world that is absolutely permanent?” Putin asked an energy forum in Moscow on Wednesday, responding to a question about whether Saudi Arabia will always align with the US on geopolitical issues. “It seems to me, on the contrary, that everything is changing.”

Putin said Russia may agree to extend the oil supply agreement with OPEC to the end of 2018.

He will make a decision near the expiry of the existing pact next March.

What has the Saudi King said?

That Saudi Arabia wanted to continue cooperation with Russia in order to maintain stability on the world oil market.

Calling Russia “a friendly country”, he said the talks would boost the global economy as well as aid international stability and security.

King Salman is visiting as Saudi Arabia looks to deepen energy ties with Russia by signing deals to acquire oil and gas assets.

Have the two countries always had good relations?

Not at all. The unlikely partnership
between Moscow and Riyadh marks a sharp turnaround from Soviet times.

Saudi Arabia cut off relations with Moscow in 1938 and only restored them after the Soviet Union collapsed.

Together with the CIA, the Saudis also armed mujahadeen fighters who ended the Soviet Red Army’s ten-year occupation of Afghanistan.

Tensions remain over Syria, where Saudi Arabia is pressing Russia to rein in Iran.

During the talks, King Salman demanded that Iran stop interfering in the internal affairs of other Middle East nations.

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