Russian President Vladimir Putin has traveled to the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) as part of a tour aimed at strengthening Moscow’s presence in the Middle East.
Putin flew into Abu Dhabi on October 15 from Saudi Arabia, and was met at the airport by U.A.E. Crown Prince Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
In remarks at the Qasr Al Watan palace, Sheikh Muhammad expressed hope that Putin’s visit would “have a deep effect to enhance the strategic relationship between our countries.”
Putin hailed the “friendly” relations between Moscow and Abu Dhabi, saying: “We have maintained close coordination on vital issues of global and regional agenda, namely Syria, Libya, Yemen, and the situation in the Persian Gulf.”
During the Russian leader’s trip, the two sides signed a number of agreements in the areas of energy and investments, according to TASS.
In the Saudi capital, Riyadh, Putin and King Salman presided over a signing ceremony on a string of billions of dollars of investment contracts between the two countries, targeting sectors such as aerospace, culture, health, and advanced technology.
The deals included an agreement to “reinforce” cooperation among the so-called OPEC+ countries — the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries plus 10 nonmembers of the cartel — according to Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.
Russia is not an OPEC member, but it has worked closely with the group to limit supply and push up prices after a 2014 slump that wreaked havoc on the economies of Russia and cartel heavyweight Saudi Arabia. Related: Russia Scrambles To Save Energy Industry From Climate Change
Putin said that Russia “attaches particular importance to the development of friendly, and mutually beneficial ties with Saudi Arabia.”
The 83-year-old King Salman told him that Riyadh looks forward to working with Moscow “on everything that will bring security, stability and peace, confront extremism and terrorism, and promote economic growth.”
During a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Putin noted that the Saudi Arabian Public Fund has allocated $10 billion for joint foreign direct investment projects in Russia, a statement said on the Kremlin’s website.
Putin’s first visits to oil-rich Saudi Arabia and U.A.E. — two longtime U.S. allies — in more than a decade come as Moscow has failed to meet its 3 percent-growth goal for gross domestic product amid stinging Western sanctions.
It also comes amid rising tensions in the Persian Gulf after an attack on Saudi oil facilities last month that the United States, Saudi Arabia, and a number of Western countries have blamed on Iran, which denies involvement.
King Salman made his first visit to Russia in 2017 and a year later Putin publicly shook the hand of the prince at a summit of the Group of 20 industrialized countries.
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