Russia, Saudi Arabia to ink US$700mil deal on aircraft leasing

Facebook Naama Issachar

Facebook Naama Issachar

United Nations officials say forming a constitutional committee is key to political reforms and new elections meant to unify Syria and end a war which has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced about half of the pre-war 22 million population.

The Russian president also spoke about his USA counterpart, saying that Moscow does not blame him for failing to improve U.S.

"If someone thinks such acts - seizing tankers and attacking oil infrastructure - will in any way affect Russia's cooperation with our Arab friends, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, or in any way destroy OPEC+ cooperation, then they are all wrong", he said according to an Arabic-language transcript shared by Saudi-owned Al Arabiya.

Speaking about Syria he said any new constitution that is drawn up for the country should guarantee the rights of all ethnic and religions groups. Iran denies the charges.

Tensions in the Gulf have risen to new highs since May 2018, when the United States withdrew from a 2015 global nuclear accord with Tehran that put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of sanctions.

The meeting with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman comes following attacks on Saudi oil installations that Riyadh and the United States have blamed on Iran, an ally of Moscow.

Speaking ahead of his visit to the country, Putin said Russian Federation has "very friendly personal relations" with Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman.

He said Moscow would work with Riyadh and its other Arab partners to "reduce to zero" attempts to destabilise energy markets.

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Analyst Lukyanov said that Moscow - with its older ties to Iran as new links with Saudi - could "play the role of peacemaker" as tensions between Tehran and Riyadh continue to rise.

Asked about concerns Riyadh was cozying up to Moscow, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said he saw no contradiction.

"We don't believe that having close ties with Russian Federation has any negative impact on our relationship with the United States", he told reporters on Sunday. "We believe that we can have strategic and strong ties with the United States while we develop our ties with Russian Federation".

King Salman made his first visit to Russian Federation in 2017 and a year later Putin publicly shook the hand of the prince when he was facing criticism after the assassination of Turkish journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a summit of the Group of 20 industrialized countries.

In meetings with Saudi leaders, the Russian president will discuss the OPEC+ pact, which has seen production cut by 1.2 million barrels per day since January.

A forum will convene 300 Saudi and Russian CEOs. "We are fostering a partnership in the trust-based, sensitive area of military and defense cooperation", said Putin.

Moscow, the world's largest wheat exporter, made some progress in accessing the Saudi and Middle Eastern markets when the kingdom agreed in August to relax specifications for wheat imports, opening the door to Black Sea imports.

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