BY GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN
RIYADH: King Salman made history on Wednesday as the first reigning Saudi monarch to visit Russia, where he is scheduled to hold wide-ranging talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranking Russian officials on bilateral, regional and international issues.
Speaking on the occasion of the visit, Adel Al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, said: “Riyadh is interested in developing cooperation with Moscow on all trajectories, and the documents to be signed during the visit to Moscow by King Salman will contribute to this.” Al-Jubeir said that King Salman’s visit is “a historic event, as it is the first-ever official visit by a Saudi monarch in the history of bilateral relations.”
Al-Jubeir, who was speaking during his talks with Russian Speaker Valentina Matviyenko on Wednesday, said: “Today, Saudi Arabia aims to develop relations with the Russian Federation in all spheres. Both our countries respect the principle of sovereignty, good neighborly relations and non-interference in internal affairs.” The foreign minister added: “We cooperate to counter extremism, terrorism and other challenges that we face.”
Al-Jubeir said: “Indeed, a number of challenges exist at the moment that we must overcome in our relations, and there are also possibilities that we must take advantage of the royal visit to develop cooperation … I have no doubts that this visit will be successful and will advance our relations from a good to an excellent level,” said the minister while expressing his pleasure and optimism over the visit.
Commenting on the first-ever official visit of a Saudi king to Russia, Dr. Mona A. Al-Mushait, a member of the Shoura Council, said: “This historic visit will bolster cooperation in various fields including oil, renewable energy and infrastructure projects, and cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia, being the world’s top oil producers will bring benefits to the global oil market.”
Russia and Saudi may now be inaugurating their broadest “strategic cooperation,” with King Salman’s visit serving as a turning point, she added.
“The first-ever official visit by a Saudi king to Moscow since the foundation of the Kingdom demonstrates that Riyadh is eager to keep balance in its foreign policy and diversify its ties. The Kingdom acknowledges the importance of Russia as a major global player, and its potential role in the region, and for Russia’s part, it is giving due importance to Riyadh’s political and strategic status in Russia-Arab relations,” she added.