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Russia Boosts Economic Ties With U.A.E. During Putin's Visit


Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, review a guard of honor during a welcome ceremony at the presidential palace on October 15.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, review a guard of honor during a welcome ceremony at the presidential palace on October 15.

Russia has signed deals worth more than a billion dollars with the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), President Vladimir Putin said as he wrapped up his tour of the Persian Gulf during which he also courted Saudi investments.

Putin flew into Abu Dhabi on October 15 from neighboring Saudi Arabia, and was met at the airport by U.A.E. Crown Prince Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

In remarks at the Qasr Al Watan palace, Sheikh Muhammad expressed hope that Putin’s visit would "have a deep effect to enhance the strategic relationship between our countries."

Putin hailed the "friendly" relations between Moscow and Abu Dhabi, saying: "We have maintained close coordination on vital issues of global and regional agenda, namely Syria, Libya, Yemen, and the situation in the Persian Gulf."

Later in the day, the Russian leader met with business representatives of the two countries and said the sides had signed agreements worth about $1.4 billion, notably in the sectors of petrochemistry, transport, and medicine, according to TASS.

AFP reported that a total of six agreements were struck, including one on shared investments between Russia's sovereign wealth fund and the Emirati investment fund Mubadala.

Trade between Russia and the U.A.E. amounted to $1.7 billion last year.

Putin's first visits to oil-rich Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. -- two longtime U.S. allies in the Gulf -- in more than a decade come as Moscow has failed to meet its 3 percent-growth goal for gross domestic product amid stinging Western sanctions.

The trips also come as Moscow seeks to increase its presence across the Middle East and amid rising tensions in the Gulf after an attack on Saudi oil facilities last month that the United States, Saudi Arabia, and a number of Western countries have blamed on Iran, which denies involvement.

In the Saudi capital, Riyadh, Putin and King Salman presided over a signing ceremony on a string of billions of dollars of investment contracts between the two countries, targeting sectors such as aerospace, culture, health, and advanced technology.

The deals included an agreement to "reinforce" cooperation among the so-called OPEC+ countries -- the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries plus 10 nonmembers of the cartel -- according to Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.

Russia is not an OPEC member but it has worked closely with the group to limit supply and push up prices after a 2014 slump that wreaked havoc on the economies of Russia and cartel heavyweight Saudi Arabia.

Putin said that Russia "attaches particular importance to the development of friendly, and mutually beneficial ties with Saudi Arabia."

The 83-year-old King Salman told him that Riyadh looks forward to working with Moscow "on everything that will bring security, stability and peace, confront extremism and terrorism, and promote economic growth."

During a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Putin noted that the Saudi Arabian Public Fund has allocated $10 billion for joint foreign direct investment projects in Russia, a statement said on the Kremlin's website.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, TASS, and dpa
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