Russian President Hands Saudi King a Smart Gift

Published October 15th, 2019 - 11:50 GMT
Putin gifts a falcon to Saudi King (Twitter)
Putin gifts a falcon to Saudi King (Twitter)
Though it might appear an unusual present, hunting with birds of prey is one of the favourite sports of the Saudi princes.

A falcon defecated in front of the Saudi Arabian king while being presented by Russian President Vladimir Putin as a gift on Monday.

In footage taken at the royal palace in Riyadh, Putin strokes the bird's plumage while talking to King Salman before the gyrfalcon excretes onto the royal's plush carpet. 

In Putin's first visit to Saudi Arabia in more than a decade, he gifted the bird, called Alpha, and received a painting in return from King Salman.

Though it might appear an unusual present, hunting with birds of prey is one of the favourite sports of the Saudi princes.

During his visit, Putin also met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with whom the Russian president says he has friendly relations.

In televised remarks, Putin and the king said bilateral relations were important to regional security and stability.

After discussions that touched on joint investments as well as conflicts in Syria and Yemen, Prince Mohammed said Saudi-Russian cooperation on energy would achieve stability.

Deepening ties have seen non-OPEC Russia, once regarded as a rival in oil markets, join OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia in forming an alliance known as OPEC+ to support crude prices by restraining output.

At a morning forum convening 300 Saudi and Russian CEOs, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said producers were showing high commitments to the deal, and his Russian counterpart said there were no talks underway to change it.

Ahead of the visit, Putin, who offered to provide Russian defence systems to the kingdom after September 14 attacks on its oil facilities, said he could also play a positive role in easing tensions with Tehran given good ties with both sides.

Any progress on long-mulled Saudi plans to purchase the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems would cause disquiet in Washington, which is sending 3,000 troops and additional air defence systems to Saudi Arabia.

U.S. President Donald Trump has resisted pressure to sanction Riyadh over human rights abuses, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, calling that a 'foolish' move that would only benefit competitors Russia and China. 

Asked about concerns Riyadh was cozying up to Moscow, senior foreign ministry official Adel al-Jubeir said he saw no contradiction.

'We don't believe that having close ties with Russia has any negative impact on our relationship with the United States,' he told reporters on Sunday. 'We believe that we can have strategic and strong ties with the United States while we develop our ties with Russia.'

Russian and Saudi flags lined Riyadh streets ahead of Putin's one-day visit, which includes an evening performance by Russia's Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra. He travels to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.

The two sides signed more than a dozen memoranda of understanding during the visit including in the fields of energy, petrochemicals, transport and artificial intelligence.

RDIF head Kirill Dmitriev said a number of Russian investors were interested in a planned initial public offering of Aramco. The oil major could sell 1-2% through a local listing its chairman said would be announced 'very, very soon', ahead of a potential international offering.

Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Russia's Gazprom was interested in cooperating with Saudi firms on natural gas.

Moscow, the world's largest wheat exporter, made some progress in accessing the Saudi and Middle Eastern markets when the kingdom agreed in August to relax specifications for wheat imports, opening the door to Black Sea imports.

RDIF and Saudi Arabia's SALIC signed an agreement to jointly search for investment projects in Russia's agricultural sector.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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