Foreign Minister of Russia Sergei Lavrov: Ladies and gentlemen,
The visit of the King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has just ended. This was his first visit to the Russian Federation as Saudi monarch. His Majesty was here in 2006, when he was Governor of Riyadh Province.
Today, talks were held between the President of the Russian Federation and the King of Saudi Arabia. My Saudi colleague, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, and I would like to inform you of the results of these talks. It was a friendly and substantive conversation based on the mutual desire of Moscow and Riyadh to consistently expand mutually beneficial cooperation across all areas.
Our leaders discussed in detail the current state and ways to further expand and improve our interaction in trade, economic, investment, cultural, and humanitarian spheres, and agreed to encourage inter-parliamentary cooperation in every possible way. We expect that a representative delegation of Saudi Arabia will participate in the forthcoming Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which will be held in St Petersburg this month.
The Russian President and His Majesty the King of Saudi Arabia actively supported the development of contacts involving Russia’s regions. Heads of Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, the Chechen Republic and Ingushetia took part in the talks. A number of intergovernmental and interdepartmental agreements, as well as major commercial contracts were signed. The strong cooperation between the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Public Investment Fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as a number of other partners from Saudi Arabia, stands out in particular.
Among the promising industries on which agreements were reached today, I would like to mention, of course, the energy industry – and not only traditional but also nuclear energy – as well as cooperation in space exploration, the agro-industrial complex and infrastructure projects. Our leaders actively supported the new initiative of businesses in both countries: today the Russian Federation is hosting the first investment forum that is attended by dozens of Russian and Saudi companies. We are sure the considerable package of documents signed today not only creates the necessary contractual and legal basis for further cooperation, for its expansion, but also makes it possible to raise the Russian-Saudi partnership to a new level.
It is very important that soon after the current summit, in late October—early November, Riyadh will host the regular, fifth meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, on the sidelines of which another business forum will be held. It will be attended by a large group of Russian entrepreneurs.
The leaders of our countries welcomed the agreement to establish yet another commission, on defence industry cooperation, which will hold its first meeting before the end of this year.
Our energy cooperation is not limited to strictly bilateral projects. His Majesty the King and the President of Russia supported the work of the energy ministries in the OPEC+ format.
President Putin and King Salman had an extensive, confidential discussion of the most important aspects of the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, with special emphasis on Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, the Persian Gulf and the Palestine-Israel settlement process.
It is critically important that both King Salman and President Putin see totally eye-to-eye on the need for mutually respectful dialogue among all the stakeholders in order to solve all these and other problems.
They stressed the need for a speedy resolution of crisis situations by peaceful political means on the basis of a broad national dialogue in each specific conflict in line with the UN Charter and the principles of international law.
In this context, King Salman appreciated the efforts to reach a settlement in Syria in the framework of the Astana format. For its part, Russia supports the efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to unite the Syrian opposition in order to consolidate its constructive platform for negotiations with the government on the basis of UN Security Council resolution No 2254.
The discussion of all these regional problems once again demonstrated the shared understanding of the priority of waging a resolute fight against terror. This is the aim of the initiatives the Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia are promoting at the UN and in the international arena in general. And of course, it is clear that fighting terror implies resolute opposition to extremist ideology.
We have briefed our Saudi colleagues on the corresponding approaches currently being considered at the UN Security Council. We expect that the Russia-Islamic World Strategic Vision Group, created by the Russian Federation and the Islamic Cooperation, will continue contributing to these efforts.
We are actively expanding humanitarian links, and we are grateful to the Kingdom for its traditional concern for Russian pilgrims who visit Saudi Arabia during the Hajj season.
A programme of cultural exchanges has been agreed, with the Mariinsky Theatre, the Bolshoi Theatre and other performing groups shortly to go to Saudi Arabia.
More broadly, President Putin and King Salman instructed all the agencies represented at the talks – and the two governments were almost fully represented – to work in a hands-on and purposeful manner to implement all the agreements reached today at the top level.
Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Adel al-Jubeir (retranslated): Thank you very much. I am very pleased to be back in the friendly nation of Russia as part of the first in history – as my colleague Sergei Lavrov mentioned – visit of the Saudi monarch, the keeper of the two shrines, to Russia.
As my colleague already mentioned, the talks were positive, friendly, and constructive. We discussed economic, cultural, and political issues, as well as the challenges facing the region, and affirmed that our two countries are on the same page regarding these issues.
We believe that the relations between our two countries have begun to develop and open up new horizons, which we could not even imagine earlier. This is due to the guidelines provided by the leaders of our respective countries and the corresponding painstaking work of our colleagues from the various departments and governments of our two countries. We share the desire to increase bilateral trade, step up political consultations and cooperation in the sphere of security and countering terrorism and extremism.
We do consider each other neighbouring countries, since we are close to each other, and we share history and religious ties. Both countries believe in the need to respect the principle of sovereignty and respect for international law and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. Both countries reject the imposition of principles that are alien to the societies of our two countries.
With regard to regional problems, indeed, as my colleague already mentioned, we discussed in detail fighting terrorism and extremism, the Palestinian issue and the need to resolve it. I mean the need to resolve it based on the international legitimacy of the Arab Peace Initiative, which states the need for the establishment of two states, one of which is the Palestinian State within the 1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem.
As for Syria, we are cooperating closely with Russia on the matter of uniting the Syrian opposition and expanding its framework in order to begin the political process in Geneva.
We also support the talks in Astana as well as the importance of preserving Syria’s territorial integrity and government institutions.
On the subject of Iraq, we confirmed the importance of preserving this country’s unity and assisting in the fight against terrorism.
Regarding Yemen, as it has been said, we support the efforts of the UN special envoy and the search for a solution based on the initiative of the gulf states, based on the results of Yemen’s National Dialogue and UN Security Council Resolution 2216.
With respect to Libya, we are also trying to achieve convergence of various Libyan forces, to assist in efforts to achieve security and to help the UN special envoy who is trying to find a solution to the crisis.
As mentioned before, we also touched upon the situation concerning the gulf.
Yesterday, we had an opportunity to hold talks at the Foreign Ministry. We discussed ways to strengthen further cooperation between the two foreign ministries.
I can also say that in general, Russia-Saudi Arabia relations have reached a milestone, becoming institutional in nature, that is all government institutions and bodies are participating in their development. We started investment cooperation and continue improving trade between the two countries. We are holding intensive consultations on all topics.
We believe that further strengthening of Russia-Saudi ties will have a positive effect on enhancing security and stability in the region and the world.
Thank you once again, Mr Minister, for your hospitality. It was a very informative exchange of opinions and coordination of actions.
Thank you very much.