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Saudi Monarch Begins Historic Trip to Russia

  • VOA News

Saudi King Salman, center, and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, right, review the honor guard upon their arrival at Moscow's Vnukovo airport, Russia, Oct. 4, 2017.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman is in Moscow for the first ever visit by a Saudi monarch to Russia.

During the four-day visit, the king is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks on issues ranging from oil to Syria.

The visit reflect strengthening ties between two historic rivals, pushed closer by a mutual need to stem the drop in global oil prices.

The rivalry between two of the world’s largest oil producers goes back to the Cold War when the Saudis helped arm Afghan rebels fighting against the Soviet invasion.

More recently, tensions were high over the war in Syria, in which Russia has staunchly backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Saudi Arabia has supported the rebels trying to overthrow him.

President Vladimir Putin speaks at the Russian Energy Week Energy Efficiency and Energy Development International Forum in Moscow, Oct. 4, 2017.
President Vladimir Putin speaks at the Russian Energy Week Energy Efficiency and Energy Development International Forum in Moscow, Oct. 4, 2017.

A thaw between Moscow and Riyadh helped push through November’s deal in which OPEC and 10 other oil-producing countries, including Russia, agreed to cut their production in a bid to combat a supply glut and shore up crude prices.

A slew of investment deals, including nuclear power technologies and expanded food exports are expected to be signed during the trip.

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

“Is there anything in the world that stays unchanged?'' Putin said. "I think that all things change.”

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