Gold escalators, gold palaces: Putin and King Salman’s meeting at the Kremlin | Hindustan Times
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Gold escalators, gold palaces: Putin and King Salman’s meeting at the Kremlin

This was the first ever visit by a Saudi monarch to Moscow as the two countries have historically been rivals.

world Updated: Oct 07, 2017 19:33 IST
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Saudi Arabia's King Salman in the Kremlin in Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Saudi Arabia's King Salman in the Kremlin in Moscow. (REUTERS)

Saudi King Salman’s historic four-day trip to Moscow, where he met Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks, came to an end on Saturday.

This was the first ever visit to Russia by a Saudi monarch and experts have viewed King Salman’s trip as signalling a shift in global power equations. Oil was the number one issue on the agenda as the two countries cemented their new friendship by signing billion dollar deals and trade agreements. Russia and Saudi Arabia also inked a $3 billion arms deal, under which Saudi Arabia is set to buy S-400 air defence systems, Kornet anti-tank guided missile systems and multiple rocket launchers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud attend a welcoming ceremony ahead of their talks at the Kremlin. (AFP)

Ties between the two countries were often strained in the past. During Cold War times, the Saudis helped arm Afghan rebels fighting against the Soviet invasion. More recently, tensions were high over the war in Syria, in which Russia has staunchly backed Syrian President Bashar Assad while Saudi Arabia has supported his foes.

But hostilities seemed a thing of the past as Russia rolled out a lavish carpet for King Salman.The Saudi king landed in Moscow to be greeted by giant billboards “emblazoned with his own image and a message welcoming him to Russia in Arabic and Russian”, reported CNN.

The two leaders discussed an oil deal, trade agreements and an arms deal as well. (AP)

Hosting the Saudi king in the ornate, gilded Kremlin interiors, Putin hailed his visit as a “landmark event” that will give a “strong impulse” to bilateral ties. Salman said he was looking to expand relations with “friendly nation” Russia “in the interests of peace, security and development of the world economy.”

Members of the Russian delegation, led by President Putin, meet with members of the Saudi delegation, led by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, at the Kremlin. (AFP)

Besides its implcations for realpolitick, King Salman’s visit garnered interest for its lavishness. The Saudi monarch was reportedly travelling with a delegation of 1500 people, his own carpets and a golden escalator that malfunctioned while the 81-year-old was deboarding his private jet in Moscow.

Saudi King Salman walks down the escalator of his plane upon arrival in Moscow's Government Vnukovo airport, Russia. (AP)

But the Saudi king’s grand entry was more than matched by Putin’s hospitality. News site Al Arabiya shared photos of Putin and King Salman having tea at the Kremlin, where the Russian President is seen pouring the beverage for his guest, under the Kremlin’s golden interiors.

Social media, of course, spotted the potential for a few jokes as pictures of the high-optics Putin-Salman meeting started doing the rounds.

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