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Russia sees Saudi Arabia as 'gatekeeper' to Mideast

Russian officials say Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud is coming to Moscow for a visit, but the kingdom has been playing coy, perhaps as a bargaining tactic.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Governor of Riyadh, hold swords on a visit to King Abdul Aziz Historical Centre in Riyadh February 12, 2007.  REUTERS/Itar-Tass/PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE   (SAUDI ARABIA) - GM1DUPEGXLAA

Is Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud planning an early October visit to Moscow or not? After multiple public invitations from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the answer to this question still remains unclear. Nevertheless, the Kremlin’s apparent determination to arrange such a trip clearly conveys Moscow’s assessment of the kingdom’s pivotal role in the Middle East.

The Russian government insists that Salman is indeed coming to Moscow. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has confirmed preparations for the visit, as has top Putin foreign policy assistant Yuri Ushakov. Following Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s recent meeting with Salman in Jeddah, the Russian Foreign Ministry released an official statement saying that the visit “is scheduled for early October.”

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