Saudi King’s historic visit to Moscow: Middle East conflicts, trade & investment on table

King Salman of Saudi Arabia arrived in Moscow on Wednesday; the first such visit by a reigning Saudi monarch. He will meet Russian President Putin to discuss trade, economy, investment, and conflicts in north Africa and the Middle East.

King Salman is scheduled to meet with Putin on Thursday.

“The leaders will consider joint steps to further develop bilateral cooperation in the trade, economic, investment and cultural-humanitarian areas,” the Kremlin’s press service said, commenting on the visit.

The two leaders are also expected to discuss defense industry cooperation, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

He said Moscow and Riyadh have “broad prospects” for cooperation as the potential of bilateral relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia is “far from being fully unlocked.”

On Friday, the Saudi King will meet with the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to discuss some economic issues, including major infrastructure projects.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov believes that the King’s visit will become “a milestone event in our relations bringing our cooperation to a totally new level,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat, an international Arabic newspaper, on Wednesday. 

“Our common objective is to increase our trade turnover and expand the commodity component of it, which – we both think – has yet to correspond to the significant potential.”

The Russian diplomat also believes that the Saudi King’s visit to Moscow will contribute to the conflict resolution in the Middle East.

Lavrov’s words were partly echoed by his Saudi counterpart, Adel Jubeir, who said he expects that after the visit relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia will move from good to excellent, as reported by Interfax.

“The visit … is considered to be historic, as this is the first visit of the head of the [Saudi] Kingdom to Russia. A number of important documents are expected to be signed,” Jubeir said at a meeting with the Speaker of the Russian Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, Valentina Matvienko.

The Saudi diplomat also has “no doubt” that this visit will be successful.

Riyadh and Moscow are jointly working on the implementation of OPEC-Plus agreements to reduce global oil production.

OPEC and Russia are leading the effort to stabilize crude oil prices, which have more than halved since 2014. In May, they signed an agreement to cap oil production through to March 2018 due to increasing output from the United States. However, it did not stop oil prices from slumping.

On Wednesday, Putin said that he believes that the agreement on the oil cuts between OPEC and non-OPEC countries could be prolonged, so that the deal would potentially be extended beyond March 2018.