Putin arrives in Saudi Arabia for official visit

Saudis ask Russia to probe oilfield attack | Article

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Energy superpowers Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation on Monday signed a key deal to bolster cooperation among the world's oil giants, as visiting President Vladimir Putin sought to defuse political tensions in the Gulf. Russian Federation and Iran back President Bashar al-Assad, while the Saudis support the opposition seeking his ouster.

As Trump reinstated USA sanctions, increasing pressure on Iran's economy, there have been a series of attacks in Saudi Arabia and in Gulf waters that Washington and close allies have blamed on Iran, which denies responsibility.

On the eve of Putin's trip, USA troops were evacuating northern Syria as their erstwhile Kurdish allies struck a deal with Assad's Russian-backed army aimed at halting a Turkish offensive.

Iran's attack on two Saudi oil plants left Saudi Arabia's output depleted and also provoked oil markets to spiral out of control for a few days. Iran denies the charges.

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

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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.

In televised remarks, Putin and the king said bilateral relations were important to regional security and stability.

A forum will convene 300 Saudi and Russian CEOs.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, was also at the reception that was held at the al-Yamamah Palace.

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.

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"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.

King Salman had visited Russian Federation in October 2017.

"As far as Russian Federation is concerned, we will do everything possible to create the necessary conditions for a positive dynamic", Putin said in the interview broadcast Sunday. The oil major could sell 1-2% through a local listing its chairman said would be announced "very, very soon", ahead of a potential worldwide offering.

Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Russia's Gazprom is interested in cooperating with Saudi firms on natural gas. "It will be one of the largest deals", Dmitriev told reporters.

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