MOSCOW, August 9 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed “philosophical” matters, not an arms deal, with Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief during a recent meeting in Moscow, a presidential aide said Friday.
Western media reported after the meeting that Saudi Arabia had offered to buy Russian arms worth $15 billion if Moscow agreed to stop backing the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The story was credited to anonymous sources and was never confirmed by Russian or Saudi officials.
“No specific military collaboration issues were discussed,” although a mutual concern was expressed regarding the Syrian civil war, Putin aide Yury Ushakov told reporters, referring to the president’s meeting last week with Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who heads the Saudi Intelligence Agency.
“It was a very intense and interesting conversation of a philosophical nature,” the aide said.
Moscow, the world’s second-biggest arms exporter after the United States, has sold weapons to Assad’s government and has staunchly opposed regime change by force. About 100,000 people have died in Syria’s ongoing civil war, according to estimates by the United Nations.