ARAB NEWS | Published — Tuesday 3 October 2017
In this file photo, King Salman receives Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah. (SPA)
JEDDAH: A new page will be turned in relations between Saudi Arabia and Russia on Thursday when King Salman arrives in Moscow for a historic visit.
The visit, the first to Russia by a reigning Saudi monarch, will boost already solid ties between the two countries, with shared interests in security, energy and trade.
King Salman is also expected to have talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on resolving the conflict in Syria.
“We are awaiting the king’s visit on Thursday,” senior Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said on Monday. King Salman will lead a high-powered delegation of government and private-sector figures, reflecting the importance of the visit to Moscow, which regards Riyadh as a potential source of investment to help Russia weather the economic sanctions imposed by the West.
During previous visits by Saudi officials, Riyadh pledged to invest $10 billion in the Russian Direct Investment Fund.
The Kingdom will also be looking to enhance its food and water security by investing in Russian land to boost its strategic reserves, benefiting from Russia’s relative political and economic stagnation.
Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov said Saudi Arabia played a major role in Arab affairs and relations between Arab countries, and was a leader in the Arab world.
Russia would be seeking to bolster dialogue, he said, with discussions on the situation in the Middle East, and in Syria in particular.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a frequent visitor to Russia, met President Putin at the Kremlin in May, when they agreed to enhance cooperation on oil and energy, and to narrow the gap between them on the Syrian conflict.
There is optimism that King Salman’s visit comes at at the right time, as the MENA region undergoes critical and significant changes.
Saudi Arabia and Russia are also major oil producers, who have joined with other countries to reduce output and reduce the glut of oil supplies, pushing the price to about $55 per barrel.