Saudi-Russia relations 'as good as the weather in Riyadh', Saudi energy minister says as Biden visit confirmed
Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman met Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak at the St Petersburg economic forum in Russia on Thursday, two days after US President Joe Biden confirmed he would be heading to the Gulf kingdom next month.
The Saudi energy minister was not listed as an official guest at the economic forum, and many other traditional Russian partners stayed away from the annual event following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.
Novak said he discussed oil prices with bin Salman in the "important" meeting.
The White House ended weeks of speculation on Tuesday by announcing that Biden will travel to Israel, the occupied Palestinian West Bank, and Saudi Arabia from 13 to 16 July.
There is widespread expectation that Biden hopes to secure a boost in Saudi oil production, in an attempt to tame spiralling fuel costs and inflation at home. Saudi Arabia has for months pushed back against Washington's calls to boost production.
Saudi Arabia and Russia are OPEC+ partners. Riyadh has been hesitant to join international criticism of Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, which began in February.
After Thursday's meeting, the Saudi energy minister said Russia-Saudi relations were "as good as the weather in Riyadh".
Russia is pumping less oil than the current OPEC+ quota calls for after Western sanctions saw some buyers either refuse or delay taking Russian barrels.
However, Russia’s crude oil production rose to 9.273 million barrels per day (bpd) in May from 9.159 million bpd in April, an OPEC+ document showed on Thursday, and Novak promised to add more next month as Moscow finds strong demand from India and China.