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Russia's Putin, Saudi crown prince discuss further OPEC+ cooperation in whirlwind visit

Published Dec 06, 2023 05:25AM ET Updated Dec 06, 2023 07:44PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a ceremony to receive diplomatic credentials from newly appointed foreign ambassadors at the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia, December 4, 2023. Sputnik/Pavel Bednyakov/Pool via R
 
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By Aziz El Yaakoubi and Vladimir Soldatkin

RIYADH (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed further cooperation on oil prices on Wednesday as members of OPEC+, a Kremlin spokesperson was quoted as saying.

A Saudi account of the meeting said the crown prince praised joint coordination between the two countries "that helped remove tensions in Middle East".

Putin and the crown prince, de facto ruler of the world's largest crude exporter, had the hastily arranged talks hours after the Kremlin leader visited Saudi Arabia's Gulf neighbour, the United Arab Emirates.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, quoted by Russian news agencies, said cooperation would continue within OPEC+, which includes the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies led by Russia.

The meeting took place after a fall in oil prices despite an OPEC+ pledge to cut output further.

"We talked again about cooperation in OPEC+," Interfax news agency quoted Peskov as saying. "The parties agree that our countries bear a great responsibility for interaction in order to maintain the international energy market at the proper level, in a stable, predictable state."

Putin, who has rarely left Russia since sending troops into Ukraine in February 2022, had also been expected to discuss Ukraine and the conflict in Gaza.

The Saudi Press Agency quoted the crown prince as saying: "We share many interests and many files that we are working on together for the benefit of Russia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and the world as well."

In remarks at the beginning of their talks, shown earlier on Russian television, Putin thanked MbS, as the crown prince is widely known, for his invitation. He had originally expected him to visit Moscow, "but there were changes to plans".

Their next meeting should take place in Moscow, he said, and "Nothing can prevent the development of our friendly relations."

Russia's defence ministry had earlier shown the Kremlin chief's Ilyushin-96 aircraft flanked by Sukhoi-35S fighter jets on its flight from Russia to the United Arab Emirates.

Putin's delegation included top oil, economy, foreign affairs, space, nuclear energy officials and business leaders.

At his first stop in Abu Dhabi, President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan welcomed his "dear friend", while a fly-past of UAE jets trailed the colours of the Russian flag.

"Our relations, largely due to your position, have reached an unprecedentedly high level," Putin told him. "The UAE is Russia's main trading partner in the Arab world."

Putin said Russia and the UAE cooperated as part of OPEC+, whose members pump more than 40% of the world's oil, adding that they would discuss the Israeli-Hamas conflict and Ukraine.

His first face-to-face talks with MbS since October 2019 came days after an OPEC+ meeting was delayed over disagreements - superseding what should have been an MbS visit to Moscow.

Putin's last visit to the region was in July 2022, when he met Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran. The Russian president was due to host his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi in Moscow on Thursday.

CLOSE RELATIONS

Putin and MbS, who together control one-fifth of the oil pumped each day, have long enjoyed close relations, though both have at times been ostracised by the West.

At a G20 summit in 2018, two months after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate, Putin and MbS high-fived and shook hands with smiles.

MbS has sought to reassert Saudi Arabia as a regional power with less deference to the United States, which supplies Riyadh with most of its weapons.

Putin says Russia is locked in an existential battle with the West and has courted allies across the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia amid Western attempts to isolate Moscow.

Both MbS and Putin need high prices for oil, the lifeblood of their economies. The question is how much of the burden each should take on to keep prices aloft - and how to verify their contributions.

Last month, OPEC+ delayed a meeting by several days due to disagreements over production levels. The Saudi energy minister said OPEC+ also wanted more assurances from Moscow that it would make good on its pledge to reduce fuel exports.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Russia in OPEC+ have been uneasy at times. A deal on cutting exports almost broke down in March 2020, but they managed to make up within weeks and OPEC+ agreed to record cuts of almost 10% of global demand.

Russia's Putin, Saudi crown prince discuss further OPEC+ cooperation in whirlwind visit
 

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Comments (13)
Mark Gesswein
Mark Gesswein Dec 07, 2023 1:52AM ET
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Well, the US and Western Europe basically gave the Saudis the middle finger, so of COURSE they are going to do business with the BRICS countries. The Biden administration has been such a disaster that the damage done is almost incalculable.
Ken Roth
Ken Roth Dec 07, 2023 1:52AM ET
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Mark is a russian troll so whatever he writes he only wants USA to suffer
Will Hicks
Will Hicks Dec 06, 2023 10:33PM ET
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Hydrogen and fusion can't come soon enough.
Will Hicks
Will Hicks Dec 06, 2023 10:28PM ET
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Vladick and Raghead having a powwow on how to sleaze their way into the history books.
Ken Roth
Ken Roth Dec 06, 2023 10:20PM ET
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Putins influence is history and the fact that he can only travel to other tyrants otherwise he gets arrested tells it all.
Jp Perth
Jp Perth Dec 06, 2023 9:06PM ET
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Putin in begging stage. Soon...
Gary Piccone
Gary Piccone Dec 06, 2023 8:17PM ET
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Putin is desperate and needs Saudi help but he'll bully them like everything he does. Why else would he be there?
Ken Roth
Ken Roth Dec 06, 2023 3:40PM ET
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Putin says yes lets cut a prop up price while pumping all the oil he can and sells it on the black market together with Iran…meanwhile the other OPEC members cannot understand why the market is saturated and prices go down…
YBelgium bel
YBelgium Dec 06, 2023 12:37PM ET
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UAE and saudi say dear friend putin reality is that russia arms iran and yemen houthi that would flatten UAE and saudi to the ground if they are allowed. Luckily for the arabs usa does help them
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Dec 06, 2023 12:15PM ET
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"Putin, escorted by fighter jets..." -- I think Ukraine has shown Russian fighters are pretty useless these days
Paul Simon
Paul Simon Dec 06, 2023 12:04PM ET
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Despite having announced output cuts Russia is selling as much oil as it can to finance its war against Ukraine. MbS is not ammused.
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Dec 06, 2023 12:04PM ET
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Putin's master Xi is not amused as China continues to pay high prices for it's energy import....
 
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