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Russian President to hold talks with Saudi King in Kremlin

The leaders are going to consider joint efforts to boost bilateral cooperation in trade, economic, investment, cultural and humanitarian areas

MOSCOW, October 5. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks with King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud who is paying an official visit to the Russian Federation. "The plan is to discuss the whole range of issues related to Russian-Saudi cooperation as the leaders are going to consider joint efforts to boost bilateral cooperation in trade, economic, investment , cultural and humanitarian areas" on October 5, the Kremlin press service told TASS.

The parties are also expected to exchange opinions regarding the global agenda. "More focus will be put on the state of affairs in the Middle East and Northern Africa, particularly settlement of remaining conflict situations in the region," the press service said.

As the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier the sides are willing to extend economic ties. "There are very broad prospects, and the potential is far from being fulfilled. Now both sides are showing political will to contribute to developing business contacts," he said. "The relations between Moscow and Riyadh are a separate vector of Russia’s external policy, given the important place Saudi Arabia takes in the region and in the Arab world on the whole," Peskov said, adding that Moscow is "obviously interested in maintaining dialogue, as part of the discussion around the situation in the Middle East, and in Syria in particularly."

Speaking at a panel session of the Russian Energy Week forum on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he plans to discuss possible extension of the OPEC+ oil production cut agreement with the King of Saudi Arabia. "We are in contact with our key partners, both with OPEC in general, and with the main producers. We will have the pleasure and honor to welcome the King of Saudi Arabia very soon in Russia. We will certainly talk about it [extension of the agreement with OPEC]," he said.

According to Peskov, the leaders may also touch upon military and technical cooperation.

Russia and Saudi Arabia, which jointly account for 25% of the global oil output, signed an agreement on joint actions to maintain stability in the oil market in September last year. The deal allowed to put forward the agreement on reducing crude production, signed by oil-producing countries on November 30, 2016. In May 2017, the arrangements were extended for another nine months. The joint work on the agreement created new opportunities for economic cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia. According to General Director of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev, Saudi Arabia's investment in Russia will exceed $1 bln after the announcement of new landmark deals during the Saudi king's visit.

Meanwhile, the trade turnover between the two countries is still relatively small. According to the data provided by the Russian Economic Development Ministry, bilateral trade increased by 30% in the first half of 2017 compared with the same period last year, amounting to $430 mln. However, experts say that these figures do not correspond to the potential of trade and economic cooperation between the two states.