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King Salman to become first Saudi monarch to visit Russia when he arrives on Thursday

King Salman will be the first Saudi monarch to visit Russia [AFP]

Date of publication: 2 October, 2017

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Saudi King Salman al-Saud will arrive in Russia on Thursday, as the two oil giants look to cement closer ties.
Russia has set a date to welcome Saudi Arabia's King Salman al-Saud, who is due to become the first ruler from the kingdom to visit Moscow.

Senior Kremlin official said the king for the historic visit on Thursday, following earlier reports that the monarch was due to arrive on Wednesday.

"We are awaiting the king's visit on Thursday," Yury Ushakov told TASS news agency.

Saudi Arabia and Russia - two of the world's biggest oil producers - are looking to cement closer ties and benefit from mutual investment.

The two countries have also been hit hard by low oil prices and despite their differences on some regional issues, might be looking to set this aside and agree on production cuts.

Last month at the UN General Assembly Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told media that King Salman would visit Russia in October.

"[Salman's] visit to Russia will be a historic visit because it will symbolise the extent of the relationship and consultations that take place between the two countries," Jubeir told Russian media.

"Our two countries are much more closely allied than some analysts... try to portray it. We are both oil producers, we are having interest in a stable oil market."

Saudi Arabia is looking to stengthen security and counter-terrorism ties, he added, and share the "same views" on regional issues.

Salman is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the tour which has been touted since July.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Putin in Moscow earlier this year.

Putin previously met King Salman - who was then Riyadh governor - when the Russian president toured Saudi Arabia in 2007. 

Salman will be the first Saudi monarch to visit Russia in an official capacity when he lands in Moscow next month.

Saudi Arabia and Russia - as well as its predecessor the Soviet Union - have had a troubled history in the past, but have strengthened ties under Putin.

Saudi Arabia led the Afghan resistance to a Soviet invasion in the 1980s, funnelling arms to militant groups based in Pakistan.

Riyadh and Moscow have also been at loggerheads over the Syria war, with Russia backing Bashar al-Assad and Saudi Arabia supporting rebel groups trying to topple the dictator in Damascus.

Saudi Arabia is believed to be winding down support for opposition groups in Syria.

Russia and Saudi Arabia have both been hit hard by low oil prices, with the two countries working closely on cutting production.

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