Russia, Saudi Arabia cement new friendship with king’s visit

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Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes Saudi King Salman at the Kremlin in Moscow on Thursday, October 5, 2017. (AN photo by Bandar Al-Jaloud)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Saudi King Salman at the Kremlin in Moscow on Thursday, October 5, 2017. (AN photo by Bandar Al-Jaloud)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin shows the way to Saudi Arabia's King Salman during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on Thursday, October 5, 2017. (REUTERS/Yuri Kadobnov/Pool)
Updated 06 October 2017
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Russia, Saudi Arabia cement new friendship with king’s visit

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Saudi Arabia’s King Salman for talks at the Kremlin on Thursday, cementing a relationship that is crucial for determining world oil prices and could be pivotal for resolving conflicts in the Middle East.
King Salman, the first sitting Saudi monarch to visit Russia, led a delegation to Moscow that agreed joint investment deals worth several billion dollars, providing much-needed investment for a Russian economy battered by low oil prices and Western sanctions.
Briefing the media on the talks between Putin and King Salman, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov focused on the common ground between the two countries.
Lavrov said the two leaders had agreed on the importance of fighting terror, of finding peaceful solutions to conflicts in the Middle East, and on the principle of territorial integrity.
In a concrete expression of how ties are deepening, Saudi Arabia said it had signed a memorandum of understanding on the purchase of S-400 air defense systems from Russia’s state arms exporter.
The two leaders had a “friendly and substantial discussion based on a desire by Moscow and Riyadh to consistently grow mutually-beneficial partnerships in all spheres,” Lavrov said at a briefing alongside his Saudi counterpart Adel Al-Jubeir.
“We believe that new horizons have opened up for the development of our relations that we could not previously have imagined,” the Saudi foreign minister said, speaking through an interpreter.
“Relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia have reached a historical moment,” said Al-Jubeir. “We are certain that the further strengthening of Russian-Saudi relations will have a positive impact on strengthening stability and security in the region and the world.”
Riyadh supports forces fighting President Bashar Assad’s group while Russian troops and Iranian militias have sided with Assad. This leaves Moscow aligned with Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran, whom Riyadh and its neighbors have accused of fomenting strife in the region.
However, Russia’s military intervention in the Syria conflict has brought about an acknowledgement in Arab capitals that it now has real clout in the Middle East.
Moscow and Riyadh worked together to secure a deal between OPEC and other oil producers to cut output until the end of March 2018, in an effort to push up world prices.
Billboards were erected on the road from the airport to central Moscow welcoming King Salman in Arabic and Russian.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Russia in May.


Australia warns citizens ahead of expected Jerusalem move

Updated 12 min 31 sec ago
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Australia warns citizens ahead of expected Jerusalem move

  • Morrison is expected to stop short of actually shifting Australia’s diplomatic corps to the Holy City, amid warnings from his own officials about the cost and security implications
  • But the move still risks heightening unrest, both in Australia’s immediate neighbor Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim nation — and further afield

SYDNEY: Australia on Friday warned citizens to take care while traveling in neighboring Muslim-majority Indonesia, ahead of an expected but contentious move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to announce — as soon as Saturday — that his government will follow US President Donald Trump’s lead and recognize the contested city as Israel’s capital.
Scores of Australians preparing to jet off to Bali and other tropical island destinations for upcoming summer holidays should “exercise a high degree of caution,” the Department of Foreign Affairs warned.
Officials in Canberra told AFP they expected the announcement to come on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, but cautioned that events could yet alter those plans.
Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital. Critics say declaring Jerusalem the capital of either inflames tensions and prejudges the outcome of final status peace talks.
Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv last May prompted tens of thousands of Palestinians to approach the heavily-protected Israeli border. At least 62 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire that day.
Morrison is expected to stop short of actually shifting Australia’s diplomatic corps to the Holy City, amid warnings from his own officials about the cost and security implications.
But recognizing Jerusalem would help the embattled Australian PM — who faces the prospect of an election drubbing next year — with Jewish and conservative Christian voters and win him friends in the White House.
His supporters argue Israel has the right to choose its own capital and peace talks are dead in the water, so there is no peace to prejudge.
But the move still risks heightening unrest, both in Australia’s immediate neighbor Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim nation — and further afield.
The Palestinian government would press for Arab and Muslim states to “withdraw their Ambassadors” and take some “meat and wheat” style “economic boycott measures” if the move went ahead, Palestinian ambassador to Australia Izzat Abdulhadi told AFP.
Indonesia’s government, facing domestic pressure at home, had reacted angrily earlier this year, when Morrison floated the idea of both recognizing Jerusalem and moving the Australian embassy there.
The issue has put the conclusion of a bilateral trade agreement on hold.
In the meantime, Australia’s foreign ministry has moved to prepare the ground.
“Demonstrations have been held in recent weeks around the Australian Embassy in Jakarta and the Australian Consulate-General in Surabaya,” it warned in a public notice Friday.
“Protests may continue at the Embassy in Jakarta or at any of Australia’s Consulates-General in Surabaya, Bali and Makassar,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said.”Exercise a high degree of caution.”
Tensions are currently running high between Israel and the Palestinians.
At least 235 Palestinians and two Israelis have died during violence in Gaza since March, mostly in border clashes.
On Thursday the Israeli army launched raids into the Palestinian city of Ramallah after a Palestinian shot dead two Israeli soldiers at a bus stop in the occupied West Bank.
Netanyahu vowed to ‘legalize’ thousands of settlements homes considered unlawfully-built even by Israel.
In total six people were killed in the most violent 24 hours to hit the West Bank and Jerusalem in months.