Russia's Putin visits Saudi Arabia on Mideast trip

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Putin praised King Salman's efforts at maintaining relations, noting the monarch's 2017 trip to Moscow.

Tensions with Iran, which is locked in several proxy wars with Saudi Arabia, have risen to new highs after Washington previous year quit a 2015 global nuclear accord with Tehran and re-imposed sanctions. "Russia sees the expansion of friendly and mutually beneficial ties with Saudi Arabia as particularly important, " he said.

Last month, after the attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities, Putin jokingly suggested at an event in Ankara with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the kingdom should have purchased the weapons.

A year later, when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was under fire after the assassination of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, Vladimir Putin went out of his way to shake his hand at a G20 summit.

U.S. President Donald Trump has resisted pressure to sanction Riyadh over human rights abuses, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, calling that a "foolish" move that would only benefit competitors Russian Federation and China.

He also referred to the "Declaration of Strategic Partnership" signed between the UAE and Russia in June 2018, saying, "The signing of this document was not a coincidence, it demonstrated the quality and nature of relations between the UAE and the Russian Federation". He also touted Russia's strong ties with many US allies, saying he can't see why Russian Federation and the USA wouldn't establish a closer partnership.

More trouble for Trump on Ukraine
He tried to back away from a comment attributed to him in the White House transcript of the call, in which Mr. Mr Biden's son Hunter was on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

"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.

Russian and Saudi flags lined Riyadh streets ahead of Putin's one-day visit, which includes an evening performance by Russia's Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra.

The two sides are expected to sign more than $2 billion of deals, including a joint investment by state oil giant Saudi Aramco and Russia's RDIF sovereign wealth fund.

Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Russia's Gazprom is interested in cooperating with Saudi firms on natural gas.

Head of the Saudi-Russian Business Council, Tariq Al Qahtani, told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday that the forum would witness the signing of several agreements and memorandums to enhance cooperation between Saudi and Russian businessmen.

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