12:17 GMT +321 August 2019
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    Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Saudi Arabia's King Salman in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia

    Saudi Arabia Expands Cooperation With Russia, but US Remains 'Strategic Partner'

    © REUTERS / Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin
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    The government of Saudi Arabia is seeking to diversify its foreign policy, including expanding cooperation with Russia. However, the rapprochement between Riyadh and Moscow does not mean a total reshuffle of the kingdom’s strategic international ties.

    "Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner of the United States and that situation will not change. At the same time, the Saudi government understands the need to expand its international ties, including with Russia, China and other countries," Lebanese political analyst Nidal Sabea told Sputnik Arabic.

    Commenting on the possibility of a coalition between Russia and Saudi Arabia at the expense of Riyadh’s cooperation with Washington, Sabea underscored, "This will never happen."

    On Thursday, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud arrived in Moscow for the first ever visit of a reigning Saudi monarch to Russia. He also brought with him a 1,000-strong delegation of Saudi high-profile officials and businessmen.

    During their talks, King Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed a wide range of issues, including the Syrian conflict, the situation in the Middle East and the fight against terrorism. The visit has also resulted in a package of deals between Riyadh and Moscow. These include agreements on military and technical cooperation as well as the energy and investment fields.

    According to Sabea, the visit was the result of the efforts of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman who built a friendly relationship with Putin during his first visit to Russia in 2015 as Saudi Arabia’s defense minister.

    "President Putin invited the Saudi king to visit Moscow two years ago during a phone conversation. The visit has been delayed several times, but the situation  changed. Russia wants a more balanced policy in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia is a major power in the region. In particular, Riyadh can help resolve the Syrian crisis and this is what Vladimir Putin wants," the analyst pointed out.

    Russia and Saudi Arabia have been at odds over the conflict in Syria, in which Moscow has supported the legitimate Syrian government while Riyadh has supported opposition groups. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has been concerned about Russia’s cooperation with Iran, Riyadh’s principal rival in the Middle East. However, the visit has indicated a slight improvement on the issue.

    During the talks in Moscow, King Salman said that the view of the Saudi leadership on the Syrian settlement coincides with the position of Moscow and Riyadh also seeks a political solution that would guarantee Syria’s stability and territorial integrity.

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    Tags:
    cooperation, Syrian crisis, talks, visit, Vladimir Putin, Salman bin Abdelaziz al-Saud, Russia, United States, Saudi Arabia
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