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Riyadh interested in closer cooperation with Moscow — Russian diplomat

November 09, 2015, 16:14 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Moscow has repeatedly stated that it remains ready and open to working together with Saudi Arabian colleagues on searching mutually acceptable ways to settle the Syrian crisis
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Russian president’s special envoy for the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov

Russian president’s special envoy for the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov

© Zurab Dzhavakhadze/ITAR-TASS

MOSCOW, November 9. /TASS/. Moscow has repeatedly said it is ready to joint work with Saudi Arabia to find mutually acceptable solutions to crisis situations in the Middle East and Riyadh is also interested in expanded cooperation with Russia, Russian president’s special envoy for the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, said in an interview with the Russian View magazine published on Monday.

"Russia and Saudi Arabia maintain close dialogue on the most pressing issues of the regional agenda on a regular basis," he said. "Taking in consideration the role played by the Kingdom in the Arab and Muslim world, it would be extremely difficult to ensure lasting peace in the hotspots of the region without involving Saudi Arabia in the international efforts to settle the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East."

"Moscow has repeatedly stated that it remains ready and open to working together with Saudi Arabian colleagues on searching mutually acceptable ways to settle the Syrian crisis, stopping violence in Yemen and stabilizing the situation in Iraq, Libya and Palestine," the Russian diplomat noted. "We know that the Saudi Arabia shares this commitment. The Kingdom appreciates our principled and unswerving position on Palestinian-Israeli settlement. We share views on many issues of the way the international relations system should develop."

Moscow and Riyadh, in his words, think that "the conversation between President Putin and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on the margins of the St Petersburg Economic Forum, and their recent meeting in Sochi on 11 October are important events that mark the beginning of a new stage in the development of Russia-Saudi relations in various spheres. These are primarily such areas as investment, nuclear power, agriculture, oil and gas complex."

"To our opinion, a vital point is that this time the Saudi side displays an interest in deepening its cooperation with Russia without demanding that we should ‘adjust’ our policy in the Middle East, as it used to do in the most recent years," Bogdanov said. "We expect that the new positive approaches of the Saudi partners will be supported by practical steps. As far as we are concerned, we are prepared to do our own part of the process."

"There are definitely prerequisites for joint political work. For one, our unequivocal support of the Arab Peace Initiative put forward by the Saudi leadership in 2002," he underscored.

Too early to speak about cardinal improvement in Middle East

According to Bogdanov, Moscow thinks it is too early to speak about cardinal improvement of the situation in the Middle East, nonetheless the progress that has been achieved is to be consolidated.

"If the said processes are not put a stop to in due time, the scenario may be most dramatic." He said. "However, the situation in the Middle East has shown signs that the widening of the destructive spiral may soon come to an end."

"The military forces of Syria and Iraq, as well as the Kurdish militias have managed to curb the spate of international terrorism and launch counterattacks. In particular, the ground operations of the Syrian armed forces have been rather successful in the recent weeks," Bogadanov noted. "The Syrian armed forces have been supported by the Russian aerospace forces."

"The efforts on Syria and Middle East settlement have also been stepped up, internationally," the Russian diplomat went on to say. "In particular, four-party consultations over Syria between the foreign ministers of Russia, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were held in Vienna on 23 October. On the same day we called an urgent meeting of the ministry "quartet" of the intermediaries on the Middle East conflict (Russia, the US, the EU and the UN) where we discussed issues related to the de-escalation of tensions in Israel and the Palestinian territories."

"However, I’m afraid it would be premature to say that the situation in the Middle East has taken a definite turn for the better," he said. "To consolidate the progress that has been achieved so far, we need thorough and earnest cooperation which requires close coordination among all the stakeholders."

Hotbed of terrorism in Middle East poses threat to entire world community

A hotbed of terrorism that emerged in the Middle East poses a real threat to both the region and the entire international community, Russian president’s special envoy for the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, said in an interview with the journal Russian View published on Monday.

"This threat should not be overlooked," he stressed. "Especially bearing in mind that Takfiri [Ilsamist radicals] camps in Syria and Iraq provide training to fighters from many countries, including European ones."

"From the very outset of the Syrian crisis we did our best to assist Syrians in settling the crisis peacefully, stopping violence as soon as possible and combating the manifestations of extremism and terrorism in their country," he said. "This conflict brought Syrian people much grief and suffering. It took or shattered the lives of thousands of people. It stole their hopes for better future and decent life. In this situation, terrorists that had grown stronger as if nourished by other people’s pain proclaimed so-called "caliphate." It was based, however, on the ideology of hatred and intolerance, rather than the noble principles of genuine Islam."

"That was unacceptable," the Russian diplomat underscored. "Russia heeded to Syrian government’s call for help in countering the spread of terrorism."

"Let me stress that we strictly adhere to the norms and principles of international law and the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations both in our policy and in the practical steps regarding Syria," he said. "At the global level, this course pursued by Moscow is aimed at strengthening the world order in which international peace and security and normal relations between states can be maintained. Elimination of terrorist cells and combating manifestations of extremism serves Russia’s long-term interests, including on the Middle Eastern track."

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