MOSCOW, December 6. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit two Middle Eastern countries - the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia - for bilateral talks on Wednesday.
Both visits and the return flight to Moscow are scheduled to take 24 hours, because the Russian president has other major events to visit on the following day.
Putin has not visited Middle Eastern countries since the start of the pandemic. His latest trip to the region - also to the UAE and Saudi Arabia - took place in 2019. However, Putin maintains regular contacts with Arab leaders on the sidelines of other international events.
According to the Kremlin, both visits will focus on bilateral relations. However, international topics, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, will also be high on the agenda. Besides, Putin is expected to share his view on the situation in Ukraine with his partners.
Energy cooperation will be another important issue up for discussion. As a member of the OPEC+ format, Russia regularly coordinates its actions with other leaders of the global oil market. Gazprom and Novatek are also running joint projects with Arab companies. Representatives of Russian energy companies have been included in the Russian delegation and will participate in the talks.
There will also be an informal touch to the meetings as Putin is expected to bring gifts to the leaders of these countries. The last time Putin came to the United Arab Emirates and to Saudi Arabia was in October 2019. Then he presented the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE armed forces Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan with a white gyrfalcon. In Riyadh, the Russian president presented Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud with a Kamchatka gyrfalcon.
First part of the visit
Putin’s meetings will kick off in the UAE. As Russian Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov has told reporters: "After the official meeting at the airport and the meeting at the palace, there will be talks between the delegations. Afterwards, there will be a one-on-one dialogue between Putin and Mohammed Al Nahyan."
The agenda of the talks includes the present-day state and prospects of bilateral cooperation, as well as topical international problems with the emphasis on the current situation in the Middle East.
The Kremlin said that ties between Moscow and Abu Dhabi were developing successfully, and bilateral cooperation "is of a comprehensive and fruitful partnership nature." The two leaders have "trust-based communication and contacts," he added.
Ushakov emphasized that economic relations between Russia and UAE were also broadening.
"The UAE is Russia's main foreign economic partner in the Arab world. In 2022, mutual trade turnover hit a historic high and reached a record $9 billion. This year, interaction is also developing very well. According to our calculations for January-September, trade turnover added 63% compared to last year's figures for the same period," he said.
It will be the second meeting between the two leaders this year. In June, President of the United Arab Emirates Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan took part in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Arrival to Saudi Arabia
From Abu Dhabi, Putin will depart to Riyadh, where he will participate in extended talks and then in a one-on-one meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud.
They plan to discuss cooperation in trade, economy and investment, and contacts within multilateral formats. They will also discuss prospects of the North-South corridor.
Special attention will be paid to energy issues. According to Ushakov, "fairly close Russian-Saudi coordination in this format is a reliable guarantee of maintaining a stable and predictable situation on the global oil market," Ushakov said. They may also discuss the situation in Syria and Yemen, as well as stability in the Persian Gulf.
Putin has not met with Saudi Crown Prince in person since 2019, but they speak regularly by phone and held five calls this year.
According to Ushakov, trade turnover with Saudi Arabia in January-September increased by 4.8% compared to the same period last year and amounted to $1.35 billion. The spheres of agriculture, energy, including nuclear power, industry, investment and space were identified as promising areas of work for the country. As for agriculture, about 70% of the trade turnover between the two countries is accounted for by exports of Russian agricultural products.
The Russian delegation includes Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov, Deputy Prime Ministers Denis Manturov and Alexander Novak, Bank of Russia chief Elvira Nabiullina, Roscosmos head Yuri Borisov, Rosatom head Alexey Likhachev and presidential aides Igor Levitin and Maxim Oreshkin. Chairman of VEB.RF Igor Shuvalov will also participate in negotiations in the extended format.