Russia's Putin praises Saudi relations before visit centred on oil and Iran crisis

Russian leader says Moscow has 'very friendly personal relations' with the kingdom's Crown Prince

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking at the Summit of leaders from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that his country had "very friendly personal relations" with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Mr Putin was about to embark on his first visit to the kingdom in more than a decade, a trip that will centre on economic deals and the crisis between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Mr Putin said Russia was studying new investments in Saudi Arabia.

Russian company Sibur Holding was looking at building a petrochemical complex in Saudi Arabia with investment worth more than $1 billion (Dh3.67bn), he told Al Arabiya TV.

The talks have been preceded by the September 14 attacks on Saudi Aramco oil facilities, which the US has blamed on Iran.

The visit is the first by Mr Putin since 2007 and will include a meeting with Saudi King Salman and Prince Mohammed, the Kremlin's top foreign policy aide, Yury Ushakov, said last week.

The visit will include discussions on "further co-operation to stabilise prices" on the world hydrocarbons market, and the situations in Syria, the Arabian Gulf and Yemen.

On the Aramco attacks, Mr Putin said: “We condemn any such actions, end of story. This is the official position regardless of who stood behind the incident.”

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest crude exporter, is the leading member of Opec, which has been co-operating with Russia to cap oil production and keep prices from falling too low.

Russia's sovereign wealth fund Russian Direct Investment Fund said it would announce more than 10 agreements during the visit, involving more than $2bn.

Mr Putin said that Riyadh had played a key role in the Syrian civil war trailing towards its ends.

“I would like to emphasise the positive role Saudi Arabia has played in resolving the Syrian crisis," he said.

"Without Saudi Arabia’s contribution towards a Syrian settlement, it would have been impossible to achieve a positive trend."