Russia's Vladimir Putin meets Saudi defence minister; their countries vow to fight terrorists

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with Deputy Crown Prince, Second Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud on Sunday in Sochi.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with Deputy Crown Prince, Second Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud on Sunday in Sochi. PHOTO: AFP

SOCHI, Russia (REUTERS/AFP) - Russia and Saudi Arabia will increase cooperation in Syria and the fight against terrorism, the two countries said on Sunday, as Russian President Vladimir Putin met Saudi Arabia's defence minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Salman.

It was Moscow's biggest attempt so far to reach out to enemies of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad since Russia joined the conflict with air strikes.

Putin met Salman on the sidelines of a Formula One race on Sunday, nearly two weeks since Moscow began bombing enemies of Assad, including rebel groups that are supported by Riyadh.

Speaking after the meeting between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Defence Minister, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was prepared to work with the Saudi military on Syria.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir appeared alongside Lavrov, abd said Riyadh had concerns about Russia's policy. Lavrov said Moscow understood Saudi concerns and the two countries shared the aim of preventing the establishment of a terrorist caliphate in Syria.

Jubeir, also saying he hoped for more talks next week.