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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Saudis Eye Choppers, Diamonds

Saudi Arabians will soon be building Russian choppers and wearing diamonds cut in Smolensk under agreements reached Wednesday during the first state visit to Moscow by a Saudi ruler since 1932.

A day after signing a landmark agreement to cooperate in stabilizing world energy markets, the world's top two oil exporters moved to capitalize on the newfound friendship and lessen their dependence on hydrocarbons.

After meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, a delegation headed by Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, the de facto ruler of the desert kingdom, met with Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and other Russian officials and executives to explore additional areas of cooperation.

Neither side, however, could escape the oil issue.

Kasyanov reiterated the Kremlin's willingness to work together with the OPEC heavyweight to preserve global oil-price stability, saying such stability depended to a great extent on both nations' energy policies.

"The stability of the world market largely depends on the predictability of our policies," Kasyanov told the crown prince, Interfax reported.

Moving beyond oil, Kasyanov said Russia's business community was "very much interested" in wider economic cooperation with Saudi Arabia, which appears to have been achieved on the sidelines of the royal visit.

Some of the ways leading to expansion of economic relations appeared to have been outlined Wednesday on the sidelines of the royal visit.

Saudi company Geralsy Group signed an agreement with Moscow conglomerate Sistema to produce under license civilian helicopters made by its Kamov subsidiary.

News agencies quoted a Geralsy executive as saying that the choppers would initially be used in the Saudi health-care system, but eventually exported to other Persian Gulf countries, where "preliminary market research shows [considerable] demand for civilian helicopters."

Vladimir Yevtushenkov, CEO of Sistema, which is involved in everything from high-tech to natural resources, said he hopes the Kamov deal is just the tip of the iceberg.

"We have a diversified business, and thus the volume of cooperation with Saudi Arabia is expected to be rather big," he was quoted as saying.

Additionally, Kristall, the Smolensk-based diamond-cutting monopoly, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Saudi Trade and Industrial Chambers to export finished gems.

"We've come a long way," Kristall general director Yury Rebrik said. "They used to buy [our] diamonds through other countries, which is not profitable for us."

Muscovites, too, are likely to see the fruits of improving economic ties between the two crude giants. Interfax quoted an unnamed City Hall official as saying that Moscow was negotiating the possibility of Saudi companies building a network of three-star hotels in the capital with Saudi money. Mayor Yury Luzhkov was among the officials who met with the Saudi delegation.

 Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed Wednesday to coordinate their anti-terrorism efforts. Moscow has said Saudi charities have funded Chechen rebels.