Russian President Vladimir Putin is paying an official visit to Saudi Arabia on Monday to meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman in his first visit to the kingdom in 12 yearsMOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 14th October, 2019) Russian President Vladimir Putin is paying an official visit to Saudi Arabia on Monday to meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman in his first visit to the kingdom in 12 years.
The Soviet Union was the first country to recognize the independent Saudi state, the Kingdom of the Hejaz and Nejd and its Dependencies, which was renamed into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in 1932.
The two states established diplomatic relations on February 19, 1926. In 1938, due to the complicated domestic and foreign policy situation in the Soviet Union, as well as due to the change in Saudi Arabia's foreign political orientation toward the West, the Soviet diplomatic mission in Jeddah was closed and the diplomatic relations were de facto cut off.
In 1990, the two countries agreed to normalize diplomatic relations and re-open diplomatic missions. The Russian Embassy in Riyadh was opened in May 1991, and the Consulate General in Jeddah has been working since April 1991. The Saudi Embassy opened in Moscow in December 1991.
Putin's state visit to Riyadh from February 11-12, 2007, the first visit by a Russian head of state to the Arabian Peninsula in history, gave a strong impetus to further development and strengthening of the Russia-Saudi relations.
From October 4-8, 2017, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud paid the first ever visit of a reigning Saudi monarch to Russia. The two leaders held talks on October 5. As a result of the visit, a package of documents was signed, in particular, the agreement on cooperation in the exploration and peaceful use of outer space, the roadmap for trade-economic and scientific and technical cooperation, the cooperation program in the field of culture, agriculture cooperation agreement and the program for the implementation of cooperation on peaceful use of atomic energy.
The leaders of the two countries speak by phone on a regular basis to discuss key aspects of bilateral relations and items on the regional agenda. They held four telephone conversations in 2017 (on April 4, June 13, November 21 and December 21) and two in 2018 (on February 14 and October 25).
Foreign ministers of the two countries also maintain close contact.
The two countries also maintain parliamentary contacts.
The speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, visited Saudi Arabia from April 15-17, 2017, to meet with the country's leadership and members of the Shura Council (Consultative Council).
On March 6, 2018, Moscow hosted a meeting between Matviyenko, the deputy speaker of the Russian parliament's upper house, Iliyas Umakhanov, and Yahya bin Abdullah Al-Samaan, the assistant speaker of the Shura Council.
The chairman of the Shura Council, Abdullah Al-Sheikh, participated in the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly, which was held in Russia's St. Petersburg from October 14-18, 2017, and in the International Forum "Development of Parliamentarism," held in Moscow from June 4-5, 2018.
Trade between the two countries is steadily increasing. According to the Russian Federal Customs Service, Russia's trade with Saudi Arabia in 2018 totaled $1 billion. Russian exports to Saudi Arabia amounted to $762 million, while imports totaled $292 million.
In the first six months of 2019, trade between the two countries amounted to $637 million. Russia exported $517 million worth of goods, while imports from Saudi Arabia reached a value of $120 million.
The Russian-Saudi business Council has been operating since 2002.
Russian-Saudi Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic and Scientific and Technical Cooperation was established in October 2002. Its 16th meeting was held on June 10, 2019. Working groups that develop promising projects in investment, industrial, agricultural and other fields are operating within the framework of the commission.
COOPERATION IN ENERGY, FOOD SECTORS
Hydrocarbon companies in Russia and Saudi Arabia are actively cooperating. Saudi Aramco oil giant, Russia's gas companies Novatek, PJSC Gazprom, Gazpromneft, Sibur are actively developing promising contacts through Russian energy giant Rosneft.
In December 2017, Russia and Saudi Arabia signed the roadmap for the implementation of the Program for the Cooperation on Peaceful Use of Atomic Energy. The two countries intend to cooperate in the field of small and medium power reactors, which can be used both for power generation and for the desalination of sea water. The parties also plan to work together in the field of personnel training for the Saudi Arabian national nuclear program and to develop its nuclear infrastructure. Russia and Saudi Arabia are also assessing the prospects of building a nuclear science and technology center on the territory of the kingdom on the basis of a Russian-designed research reactor.
Saudi Arabia launched a tender process to construct its first two nuclear power reactors. Russia's nuclear corporation Rosatom also takes part in the tender. As of June 2019, Rosatom has already passed two stages of qualification for the construction of the first nuclear power plant in Saudi Arabia.
In 2018, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority allowed Russia's biggest beef producer, Miratorg, to open a representative office in the kingdom, which will significantly expand the supply of halal products not only to Saudi Arabia, but also to other countries of the Muslim world.
Defense industry cooperation is also developing. In October 2017, Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport and the Saudi military-industrial company signed a memorandum on the purchase and localization of production of military goods and a contract for organizing a licensed production of Kalashnikov AK-103 assault rifles in Saudi Arabia. In February 2019, Russia started supplying AK-103 assault rifles to Saudi Arabia.
Russia and Saudi Arabia also reached agreements on the deliveries of Russia's S-400 missile defense system, Kornet-EM anti-tank systems (NATO reporting name AT-14 Spriggan), TOS-1A Buratino heavy flamethrower systems, and AGS-30 grenade launchers.
In May 2018, the manufacturers of MC-21 and SSJ100 jets, Russia's Irkut Corporation and Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC) respectively, signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA). The deal is meant to promote Russian civil aircraft in the Middle East as well as in Northern and Central Africa.
Russia and Saudi Arabia have strong cultural links, including between Muslim organizations. In 2002, Russia established its hajj mission (represents the Council for Hajj at the Government Commission for Issues of Religious Organizations) to provide assistance to Russian pilgrims.