09:46 GMT +323 June 2018
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    Syria 'Offering Excellent Opportunity' to Boost Russia-Saudi Relations

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    The relationship between Russia and Saudi Arabia has been complicated at times, but Saudi journalist and former general manager of the al-Arab News Channel Jamal Khashoggi asserted that efforts aimed at resolving the Syrian crisis could serve as a basis for fostering close relations between Moscow and Riyadh.

    "It is a perfect time now and there is an opportunity for Saudi Arabia and Russia to work together on bringing peace to Syria. But they need to find common ground specifically with regard to peace in Syria as opposed to reaching a consensus on keeping President Bashar al-Assad in power," he said during an expert debate held at the Valdai Discussion Club.

    Russia and Saudi Arabia have provided assistance to opposing sides of the ongoing Syrian conflict, with Moscow launching a limited aerial operation to help Damascus tackle foreign-sponsored terrorist groups fighting to overthrow President Assad and establish a state based on Sharia. For its part, Riyadh has been one of the key supporters of radical militias and organizations active in Syria.

    As a result, both countries have not seen eye to eye when it comes to the fate of President Assad, with Saudis calling for his immediate resignation. Moscow has always maintained that it is up to the Syrian people to choose their leaders.

    Despite these differences, Khashoggi, who serves as media advisor to the Saudi ambassador Prince Turki Al Faisal, maintained that Syria could bring Russia and Saudi Arabia closer together.

    "I think that Syria offers an excellent opportunity to build close relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia," he said, pointing to oil, energy and investment as the key areas where Moscow and Riyadh could increasingly cooperate.

    Earlier this year, both countries worked out a roadmap on join investment projects in energy, the agricultural sector and manufacturing industry. Saudi Arabia's Minister of Commerce and Investment Dr. Majed bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi told Sputnik in January that both sides are also focusing on exploring investment opportunities in culture and science.

    In 2015, the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) reached an agreement. Riyadh pledged to invest $10 billion in projects carried out in Russia, making it the largest foreign investment in the country.

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    investment, bilateral relations, Syrian conflict, Syrian crisis, Bashar al-Assad, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Russia
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