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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Putin discusses ‘joint projects’ with Saudi crown prince

The Riyadh-Moscow call comes after Mohammed bin Salman hosted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday, discussing energy prices and other important issues, the Kremlin said. The phone call follows the prince’s meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

According to the Kremlin readout of the call, the two leaders paid particular attention to “measures to further build up trade and economic ties, the implementation of promising joint projects in the field of investment, transport logistics, and energy.”

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They discussed in detail the topic of “ensuring stability in the world energy market” and agreed on the high level of cooperation within OPEC+, as well as the agreements reached at the recent ministerial meeting in Riyadh, the statement added.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov was at the meeting in Riyadh, and on Wednesday met with Rayed Krimly, director of policy planning at the Saudi Foreign Ministry. They discussed regional and international security, “with a particular emphasis on the problem of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” the Russian Foreign Ministry noted.

On Tuesday, Prince Mohammed hosted the US secretary of state in Jeddah. It was Blinken’s first visit to the kingdom since China helped Saudi Arabia and Iran normalize relations in March.

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The State Department said the meeting lasted about 100 minutes and touched on the conflicts in Sudan and Yemen, the potential normalization of relations with Israel, and human rights in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government acknowledged the meeting but gave no specifics.

On Monday, Prince Mohammed hosted President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, a fellow OPEC member whom the US has tried to oust from power through sanctions and a coup.

Relations between Riyadh and Washington have cooled since 2018, when the US accused Prince Mohammed of ordering the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The 37-year-old crown prince manages the day-to-day affairs of the kingdom for his father, King Salman, who is 87.