The president also said Iran’s missile programme should be dealt with as a separate matter to its nuclear programme, ahead of his first visit to Saudi Arabia in over a decade.
DUBAI/MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia can play a key role in the Middle East as it has good relations with Iran and the Arab world.
He was speaking in an interview with Arab broadcasters, including Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV, ahead of his first visit to Saudi Arabia in more than a decade.
Putin said nobody in Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates wanted a confrontation with Iran. He also said Russia was working on a free trade zone with Israel and Egypt, similar to one between Russia and Iran.
He added that Russia sticks to two state solution to resolve Israel-Palestine conflict and that the US plan known as deal of century is still unclear.
The president also said Iran’s missile program should be dealt with as a separate matter to its nuclear program.
“It is possible, and we should, discuss Iran’s missiles program… but the missile program is one thing and the nuclear program is another thing,” Putin was quoted as saying.
The interview was aired on Sunday ahead of Putin’s visit to Saudi Arabia on Oct. 14, the first visit in over a decade.
Speaking about Syria he said any new constitution that is drawn up for the country should guarantee the rights of all ethnic and religions groups.
He added that Syrians “interact positively” with Russian military police and military stationed in the country and that most military police in Syria are Muslims drawn from Russia’s north Caucasus region.
Russia has been a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his war with rebels and militants.
Speaking ahead of his visit to the country, Putin said Russia has “very friendly personal relations” with Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman.
He also highlighted that Russia was studying new investments in Saudi Arabia. Russian company Sibur Holding was looking at building a petrochemical complex in Saudi with investment worth more than $1 billion, Putin told Al Arabiya.
The Russian president also spoke about his US counterpart, saying that Moscow does not blame him for failing to improve U.S.-Russian relations, a pledge he had made during his election campaign.
“We know that, including during his previous election campaign, he spoke in favor of a normalization (of U.S.-Russia relations), but unfortunately it has not happened yet,” Putin told Al Arabiya, Sky News Arabia and RT Arabic.
“But we have no claims because we see what’s going on in U.S. domestic politics,” he said, according to a transcript published on the Kremlin’s website on Sunday.
Putin said the “internal political agenda” was not allowing Trump to take steps aimed at a drastic improvement of bilateral relations, adding Moscow would in any case work with any U.S. administration to the extent that Washington itself wants.
Putin also said Russia had weapons that neutralize any threat from NATO’s missile deployments in Poland and Romania.
“This obviously poses a threat to us because it’s an attempt to level out our strategic nuclear potential. It’s bound to fail, this attempt, it’s already obvious,” he said.