Putin receives King Salman at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. REUTERS/Yuri Kadobnov/Pool
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Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Saudi King Salman for talks at the Kremlin Thursday, cementing a relationship that is pivotal for world oil prices and could decide the outcome of the conflict in Syria. King Salman, the first sitting Saudi monarch ever to visit Russia, led a delegation to Moscow that agreed joint investment deals worth several billion dollars, providing much-needed investment for a Russian economy battered by low oil prices and Western sanctions.In Syria, Riyadh backs rebels fighting President Bashar Assad's army, while Russian and Iranian forces have sided with Assad. This leaves Moscow aligned with Saudi Arabia's arch-rival Iran, whose influence Riyadh fears is growing in the region.During previous contacts with Russia, Saudi Arabia has tried to persuade Moscow to scale down its ties with Tehran.The kingdom has also been hit by the fall in oil prices since mid-2014, much like Russia.But any sign that the deal could unravel could see oil and gas prices fall back down, pinching the finances once again for countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia.
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