Accessibility links

Breaking News

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, Russian President Discuss Oil, Gas - 2003-09-02


The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Tuesday at the start of a three-day official visit. The two leaders primarily discussed oil on the first visit of a Saudi leader to Russia in decades.

Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz met President Putin in the Kremlin to focus on strengthening ties between the two oil exporting countries.

After the meeting, Saudi and Russian officials signed an agreement calling for increased cooperation in the oil and gas industry.

The agreement also calls for maintaining stability in the global oil market.

Russia is not a member of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. However as the world's second-largest exporter of crude oil, Russia's role as a major player on the world oil market has been growing steadily.

Analysts say Moscow has an interest in solidifying its ties with Riyadh, largely because the economy of both countries is so dependent on oil.

In an editorial on Tuesday, the leading Moscow business newspaper Kommersant said forging closer ties will help Russia influence the global oil market.

Higher oil prices over the past year have given Russia's economy a strong boost, and price stability is a priority for the government.

The newspaper added that closer ties may also attract Saudi investment to Russia's high technology and weapons industries.

Russia also has other concerns to raise with the Crown Prince, who has been Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler since his older half-brother, King Fahd, suffered a crippling stroke in 1995.

In the past Russian officials have accused Saudi Arabia of financing Chechen rebel groups, which the Kremlin considers a terrorist organizations. A separatist war has been raging in the Muslim-majority breakaway region for most of the past decade.

Neither leader made any public reference to the issue on Tuesday, but the subject is expected to be discussed by officials from both countries during the visit.

President Putin has also expressed a desire for Russia to have observer status at the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a group of primarily Islamic countries. There are 20 million Muslims in Russia out of a population of 145 million.