|Putin, Prince Bandar discuss Syria, Iran||
Russian President Vladimir Putin met Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan near Moscow and discussed the war in Syria and Iran's nuclear program, the Kremlin said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
Russia has supported President Bashar al-Assad during the conflict while Saudi Arabia has backed rebels trying to overthrow the Syrian leader.
The Kremlin said Putin and Prince Bandar discussed plans for a long-delayed international peace conference on Syria to be held in Geneva on January 22. It did not say when the two men met.
"There was a detailed exchange of opinions on the situation in Syria, including in the context of preparation for the Geneva 2 conference," said a statement posted on the Kremlin website.
"The emphasis was placed on the need to ensure that regional problems are solved on the basis of respect of the UN Charter and principles of international law," the Russian foreign ministry said.
Russia and the United States first announced plans for the conference in May. In September, they brokered a deal to rid Syria of chemical weapons after a sarin gas attack near Damascus in August, averting the possibility of U.S. air strikes.
"Positive dynamics in the international efforts to settle the Iranian nuclear dossier were noted," the Kremlin said.
Iran and six world powers, including Russia, clinched a deal last month to curb the Islamic Republic's disputed nuclear program in exchange for initial sanctions relief.
Bandar last met Putin in a meeting on July 31 whose circumstances remain shrouded in mystery but which caused huge interest in the Arab world.
Diplomats in the Middle East have said that Putin rejected a proposal from Prince Bandar for Moscow to abandon its support for Assad in exchange for a huge arms order from Riyadh worth $15 billion, according to voice of Russia.
Putin rejected the proposals, according to the same sources.
However the Kremlin later denied that the two men had discussed military cooperation or any deals.
Widely regarded as among the most influential powerbrokers in the Middle East, Prince Bandar is the son of the late crown prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, who died in 2011.
According to AFP, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had also met Prince Bandar in Moscow to discuss the Syria peace conference.
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