Russia's Sergei Lavrov to meet GCC ministers in Riyadh despite invasion of Ukraine

Russia's Sergei Lavrov to meet GCC ministers in Riyadh despite invasion of Ukraine
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Russia's foreign minister is set to go to Saudi Arabia this week to meet with senior officials from multiple Gulf Arab states. The focus of the talks has not been made public.
Lavrov's visit will take place a day before an OPEC+ meeting in Vienna [source: Getty]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Saudi Arabia on Wednesday where he will meet foreign ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, two Gulf officials said on Tuesday.

Lavrov, who was in Bahrain on Tuesday, is expected to meet ministers from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain in the GCC headquarters in Riyadh, the officials said, asking not to be named.

The focus of the talks was not clear, although the officials said the six Gulf ministers would also hold an online meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba later on Wednesday. They declined to give details.

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Gulf states have stayed neutral during Russia's invasion of Ukraine despite Western calls to isolate Moscow.

Oman's foreign minister said in remarks published by his ministry on Saturday that the crisis required a European solution and that a posture of "you are with us or against us" would not work.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud by phone on Monday, underscoring the importance of international support for Ukraine, the US State Department said.

Lavrov's visit will take place a day before a meeting in Vienna of OPEC+, an oil alliance that includes Gulf producers and Russia.

OPEC+ is set to stick to last year's deal that will see another modest monthly output increase by the group in July.

Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have so far resisted pressure from the United States to boost crude output more sharply to prices which have rocketed higher, partly due to the Ukraine crisis.

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Riyadh says high oil prices are caused by geopolitics, stretched refining capacities and higher taxes in the Western world rather than supply concerns.

US President Joe Biden and his team have been considering making a stop in Saudi Arabia and Israel after he travels to summits in Germany and Spain in late June, sources have said.

Two senior US officials visited Saudi Arabia last week for talks that covered energy and other issues but did not include calls for boosting Saudi oil exports, the White House said.