Putin lands in Saudi Arabia on ME trip, holds talks with King Salman - GulfToday

Putin lands in Saudi Arabia on ME trip, holds talks with King Salman

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King Salman and Vladimir Putin attend the official welcome ceremony in Riyadh on Monday. Alexander Zemlianichenko / AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin travelled to Saudi Arabia on Monday, meeting with Saudi King and Crown Prince as he seeks to cement Moscow's political and energy ties across the Mideast.

Putin received all the trappings of a state visit, with a mounted guard escorting his limousine to King Salman's Al Yamamah palace in Riyadh on his first visit to the kingdom since 2007.

Putin listened to a Saudi military band play Russia's national anthem, then greeted officials and sat with King Salman for a conversation captured by state television. Earlier, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman walked up to greet Putin on his arrival.

The crown prince later engaged in a conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Keeping Russia with the oil cartel, an arrangement now known as OPEC+, appeared likely to top discussions.

Saudi Arabia likely also wants to talk about ongoing tensions gripping the wider Middle East.

Saudi Arabia remains worried about Iran. Since President Donald Trump pulled out of Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers over a year ago, risks have risen in the Arabian Gulf.

Since the summer, a series of attacks have targeted oil tankers in the region.

These attacks culminated in a Sept.14 drone-and-cruise-missile assault that knocked out half of Saudi Arabia's oil production.

The US blames Iran for the attack.