Russian diplomats: Syria, Yemen high on Salman-Putin agenda for talks

Shehab Al-Makahleh
Shehab Al-Makahleh - Special to Al Arabiya English, Moscow
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In his scheduled meeting with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin would seek ways to stabilize relations with various powers in the Middle East in order to navigate through continuing tensions in the region, according to senior Russian diplomats.

Russians are giving due importance to the Saudi King’s visit, as Moscow is highly interested in maintaining dialogue and discussions with Riyadh on a number of issues including Syria and Yemen. This was stated by former Russian ambassador to the kingdom and head of the Russian Association of Diplomats, Andrey Baklanov.

In an interview to Al Arabiya English, Baklanov said that the nature of relations between the two countries had fluctuated over the years in the wake of changing geo-political developments.

“The Soviet Union was the first to recognize the then kingdom of Najd and Hejaz. We consider the visit, the first by a Saudi Ruler to Russia, as a sign of the level of dialogue both countries have reached in terms of some issues of mutual concern,” Baklanov said.

He added that the visit shall certainly give support to Arab and Islamic causes and will further boost cooperation between the countries.

“The visit will bridge the gaps that were existing in the past due to some differences on certain issues,” he said.

The diplomat added that while tensions between Moscow and Washington are rising, Russia is determined to have its say in world affairs and the Middle East is being used as a springboard by its strategists.

At present, Russia considers itself as a serious, honest and active player in the Middle East and blames the US administration for the state of chaos that the region is witnessing, Baklanov said.

“Both Saudi Arabia and Russia should act to solve some issues and conflicts in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Yemen. We should restore stability to the region as a whole and make it better than it was before the Arab Spring”.

On the global energy outlook, Venyamin Popov (ambassador at the Russian foreign ministry and Head of the Group of Strategic Vision for Russia and the Islamic World) said that both countries have succeeded in stabilising global energy prices.

“Energy cooperation is a top priority for both countries. We have coordinated with Saudis to stabilize the prices of oil and have succeeded to keep the price at the level of US$56-57 per barrel,” Popov said.

He explained that Russia and Saudi Arabia can work on solving the conflict in Syria as both agree on the principle of unity in the country. “We in Russia as well as Saudi Arabia seek the unity of Syria and want an end to terrorist acts in that country, which has suffered incessant violence and bombings for many years. Thing should return to normal,” Popov said.

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