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Russia, Saudi Arabia Pledge To Boost Ties During King's Landmark Visit

Russia, Saudi Arabia Pledge To Boost Ties During King's Landmark Visit

Photos show Putin personally pour a cup of tea for his royal guest at the Kremlin Palace.

King Salman's visit to Russian Federation has been widely interpreted as a sign of Russia's growing influence in the Middle East.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) during the visit of Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to Moscow signed agreements worth $2.1 billion, the Fund's Director General Kirill Dmitriyev told TASS after the negotiations.

This was the start of a four-day trip to Russian Federation for the King - the first ever official visit to the country by a Saudi monarch.

Saudi Aramco is discussing several investment opportunities with Russian firms but there are no current plans to take a stake in Novatek's liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, Aramco Chief Executive Amin Nasser said on Thursday.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have supported opposing sides in ongoing conflicts in Syria and Yemen. We intend to develop bilateral relations for development of global economy with peace and security.

For his part, Jubeir said that "we believe that new horizons have opened up for the development of our relations that we could not previously have imagined".

Ties between the two countries were often strained in the past.

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The bill for fully booking the two hotels during the visit may run about US$3 million (S$4 million), not including what the delegation will spend on services, restaurant meals and spa treatments, said Mr Vadim Prasov, vice-president of the Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Russia.

This is also the first time in recent years, according to SIPRI, that Saudi Arabia has purchased weaponry from Moscow, as the United States is Riyadh's main source of arms.

Saudi King Salman walks down the escalator of his plane upon arrival in Moscow's Government Vnukovo airport, Russia.

Russian Federation has prepared a package of around US$3.5 billion arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which includes several divisions of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems.

"Salman and Putin are expected to discuss major defense and energy contracts, as well as extending oil production cuts ahead of the OPEC [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries] oil cartel meeting in November", notes AFP.

There has been no immediate US reaction to the growing ties between Riyadh and Moscow.

Asked about ties with Riyadh during a panel discussion at an worldwide energy conference Wednesday, Putin responded that Moscow doesn't see close US-Saudi relations as an obstacle for closer cooperation with the Saudis, and added that alliances tend to shift.

But OPEC - led by Saudi Arabia, which holds the world's largest oil reserves - and Russian Federation, a non-OPEC member which nonetheless is a major oil producer, recently reached a broad agreement on production cuts across OPEC and non-OPEC states created to push prices back up.