Mohammed Bin Salman shakes hands with Vladimir Putin after arriving for the opening ceremony for the FIFA World Cup at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, Russia. (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

Putin Plans to Meet With Saudi Crown Prince at G-20 Summit, Sources Say

(Bloomberg) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Argentina this week, according to two people familiar with the plans.

The talks between the two leaders come as the crown prince faces international condemnation over the kingdom’s killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi and just days before a crucial meeting of OPEC and its allies in Vienna. Saudi Arabia will try to persuade Russia at the OPEC gathering to cooperate on curbing crude output next year following oil’s plunge back into a bear market.

It wasn’t immediately clear when during the G-20 meeting the two leaders would meet. The Kremlin didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, and Saudi Arabia’s government hasn’t confirmed that Prince Mohammed is attending the Nov. 29-Dec. 1 summit in Buenos Aires.

The crown prince’s appearance in Argentina follows a tour of Arab countries and will be scrutinized to gauge how willing world leaders are to be associated with him following Khashoggi’s death at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. U.S. President Donald Trump, who has built much of his Mideast strategy around an alliance with Saudi Arabia, has no plans for a one-on-one meeting with Prince Mohammed, the White House said Tuesday.

But the Putin-Prince Mohammed meeting will be closely tracked in oil markets as well. Talks between the two leaders helped secure historic production cuts in 2016 that rescued prices from a multiyear slump.

Cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia to stabilize oil markets has been "highly successful not only to stabilize oil prices but to build significant mutual trust and the mechanisms for further OPEC coordination," said Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the state-run Russian Direct Investment Fund, who will be taking part in talks with the Saudis on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

Russia and Saudi Arabia are de-facto leaders of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ alliance with other key oil exporters. After agreeing in June to boost output to offset losses from Iran and Venezuela, the countries have so far demonstrated different positions on whether action is necessary to stem the current price rout.

While Saudi Arabia has called for broad output cuts and warned of an emerging glut, Russia has stuck to a wait-and-see approach, saying further market monitoring is needed before any decision.

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