Saudi King slams Iran on historic visit to Russian Federation

Casey Dawson
October 6, 2017

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Wednesday Russia and Saudi Arabia would sign joint investment agreements worth more than US$3 billion during the visit.

"The visit is likely to strengthen trade ties between Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia, but most are wondering whether two of the world's major oil producers will be discussing a collaboration to improve the price of oil", Ahmad said. That marked a shift for the kingdom, which buys most of its military kit from the United States and Britain. Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation backed different sides in the war in Syria.

Pursuing its path towards strengthening its clout in the Middle East region, Russian Federation is playing every card to be a flawless host to King Salman, who has become the first reigning monarch to visit Russian Federation.

On Thursday, Putin received the monarch in the gold-decorated St. Andrew Hall, one of the grandest spaces in the Kremlin, attended by soldiers in ceremonial dress and with an orchestra playing their countries' national anthems.

As leader of Saudi Arabia, King Salman travels in rarefied air.

In addition, Saudi Arabia is trying to build a closer relationship with President Trump and his administration, while the US has sanctioned Russian Federation over its involvement in the Ukraine crisis. An oversupplied market a year ago, brought on by USA oil production and OPEC members working to defend market shares with more output, helped pushed the price of oil below $30 per barrel.

Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said Saudi Arabia was "flexible" regarding Moscow's suggestion to extend the pact until the end of next year.

On the trip's program is an announced business forum which will see speeches by state-owned energy giants Saudi Aramco and Russia's Gazprom.

Brent crude was up 70c at $56.50 a barrel by 1.40pm GMT.

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Iran and Saudi Arabia have supported opposing sides in ongoing conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Lavrov said the Saudi monarch and Putin's meeting saw a "particular focus on Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen".

The current talks in Moscow will determine the fate of the package of arms contracts, including the delivery of S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile systems to Riyadh.

"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, according to AFP news agency.

Saudi Arabia's investment in Russian Federation has already amounted to $1 billion, but Russian Federation intends to increase the amount further at least twice.

Absent from the slew of deals was any agreement on Saudi Aramco taking a stake in an Arctic liquefied natural gas project run by Russia's Novatek.

Saudi Arabia is now investing over $1 billion in over 20 Russian projects including the construction of a petrochemical complex and Pulkovo Airport in St Petersburg, Russian Energy Minister and co-chairman of the Russian-Saudi Intergovernmental Commission Alexander Novak said.

Aramco Chief Executive Amin Nasser will inaugurate Aramco Asia India during a visit to New Delhi next week to attend the IHS-CERA conference, which starts on Sunday and which will also be attended by OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo.

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