Al Ahed news
A diplomatic report revealed Wednesday the results of the stormy meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan.
According to the report published by as-Safir Lebanese daily, the June meeting concluded that the region stretching from North Africa to Chechnya and Iran through Syria, including all of the Middle East, is under the influence of the open US-Russian battle.
It is likely that things take a dramatic turn on the Lebanese front, on both political and security senses, in light of a senior Saudi decision to respond to Hizbullah’s involvement in the Syrian crisis.
The report presents the aspects of the Saudi-Russian meeting. It indicates that Prince Bandar, in coordination with the Americans and some European partners, proposed to the King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, to visit Moscow. Bandar announced that he’s to us the carrot and stick means to convince the Russians.
He told the king that he is to cover the Russian leadership with political, economic, militarily and security temptations in exchange for Syria and Iran.
King Abdullah agreed on the proposal and contacted on the thirtieth of July with President Putin.
After a short conversation that lasted only a few minutes, the Saudi king agreed with Putin on a secret visit for Bandar to Moscow.
And this is really what happened. Bandar didn’t arrive to Moscow until the arrangements for his visit was shadowed by very secret procedures. Even the Saudi embassy had not taken the usual measures upon the arrival of Saudi officials to the Russian Federation.
Hours later, an introductory session was held between the director of Russian military intelligence General Gen. Igor Sergon and the Saudi intelligence chief at the headquarters of the military intelligence.
The meeting on the security cooperation between the two countries, and later Bandar moved to one of Putin’s houses on the outskirts of the Russian capital, where he held a closed bilateral meeting that lasted for four hours.
The conferees discussed an agenda that consisted of bilateral and other issues related to a number of regional and international files.
On the bilateral level, Bandar transferred to Putin the Saudi King’s greetings and his emphasis on the importance of developing relationships.
“Any understanding we will reach, won’t only be limited as a Russian- Saudi understanding but it will extend to be a Russian-US one, particularly any agreement we will reach on the Syrian file,” he added.
Bandar further stressed the importance of developing relations between the two countries, saying that the language of interests can provide large areas of cooperation.
In this context, the Saudi intelligence chief listed the areas of economic, oil, and military investments.
“There are a lot of common values and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against terrorism and extremism all over the world,” Bandar stated, and claimed that “Russia and the United States, the European Union and the Saudis agree on the promotion and consolidation of international peace and security.”
Moreover, he mentioned that the terrorist threat is growing in light of the ‘Arab Spring’.
Bandar added: “As an example, I can guarantee the protection of the Winter Olympics in “Sochi” on the Black Sea. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the Olympics have moved to Syria in coordination with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in face of the Syrian regime and we can guarantee that they won’t have any role or influence in the political future of Syria.”
At this point, Putin thanked King Abdullah on his greetings and Bandar on his speech, but he responded by saying: “We know that you have been supporting these terrorist Chechen groups for more than a decade.”
“This support, which you frankly mentioned, simply contradicts with the common objectives of the universal fight against terrorism, which you have stated minutes ago. We are interested in the development of friendly relations according to clear and strong principles,” the Russian President added.
Bandar said that the matter is not limited to the Kingdom and there are some countries that have exceeded its roles, for example, Qatar and Turkey.
Introducing oil to the negotiations, Bandar talked of potential synergies between the two countries if an understanding was reached on a number of files, especially Syria.
In this context, Bandar talked about long oil investment cooperation. “Let us study how to put a unified Russian-Saudi strategy on the subject of oil. The aim is to agree on the price of oil and the quantities of production to keep the global oil markets stable.”
“We understand Russia’s great interest in the oil and gas of the Mediterranean Sea: from “Israel” to Cyprus passing through Lebanon and Syria,” the Saudi prince emphasized, and noted to the “vital Russian gas pipes to Europe.”
In an attempt to assure his Russian host, Bandar said: “We are not in the process of competition, and we can cooperate in this area as well as in the establishment of refineries and petrochemical industries.”
“The Kingdom is able to provide a huge multi-billion dollar investments in various fields in the Russian market,” he said.
However, he presented the conditions at this point: “It is important to conclude a political understandings on a number of files, particularly Syria and Iran.”
Putin responded that the ideas about the oil and gas cooperation as well as economic investment are worthy to be studied among the relevant ministries in both countries.
Meanwhile, Bandar made a lengthy remark on the Syrian file staring from Daraa incidents to reach the current situation.
“The Syrian regime is over for us and the majority of the Syrian people will not allow Bashar al-Assad to continue at the head of the state,” he claimed, and pointed out that “the key to relations between Riyadh and Moscow start with the understanding on Syria.”
On this level, the top Saudi official demanded a Russian stop for political support to Syria, especially in the UN Security Council.
As he assured Putin that his country’s interests on the Mediterranean coast will not be affected by one iota, Bandar urged a fast end to military and economic support for Syria.
“The future is to be ruled by a moderate and democratic regime, directly sponsored by us. It will be interested in understanding the interests of Russia and its role in the region,” he added.
Directly, the Russian president responded to Bandar, saying: “Our position from the Syrian regime will never change. We believe that the best to speak on behalf of the Syrian people is the Syrian regime and not the liver eaters and cannibals.”
“In Geneva we agreed with the Americans on a package of understandings, among which is that the regime will be in any settlement. Later, they decided to coup on the Geneva.. In all the Russian-American meetings, our officials reiterate our position, and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will confirm in the next meeting with his US counterpart John Kerry, the importance of making every possible effort to quickly reach a political settlement to the Syrian bloodshed,” he reiterated.
Once Putin finished his words, Bandar warned that the path of talks demonstrates that the things are to worsen, especially in the Syrian arena.
He further stated that the dispute in the Syrian file leads to the conclusion that “there is no escape from the military option. It is the only option available under the blockage of the horizon of any political settlement, and we believe that the Geneva Conference 2 will be very difficult to convene.”
Bandar also approached Iran’s regional role, especially in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, Bahrain and other countries. He also wished that Moscow understands the Saudi and Gulf interests in face of “nuclear Iran’s greed and challenges”.
In regard to Iran, Putin told his Saudi guest that Iran is a neighbor and “we are bound to it by centuries of relations, as well as common and tangled interests”. “We support the Iranian seek for peaceful nuclear energy and we helped them develop their facilities in this direction.”
“Of course, we will resume negotiations with them as part of G5+1 , and I will meet with President Hassan Rohani, on the sidelines of a Central Asia summit,” he declared, noting that “the meeting will discuss a lot of bilateral, regional and international levels.”
Putin reiterated his country’s rejection to imposing any new sanctions on Iran in the UN Security Council. “We believe that what was previously taken was unfair sanctions against Iran and its people,” he said, and concluded: “We will not repeat the UNSC experience again.”