Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, met with Russian Special Envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev today, giving the two an opportunity to discuss steps to be taken for a political solution in Syria.
According to the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Lavrentiev arrived in Riyadh and "conveyed the greetings of [Russian] President, Vladimir Putin, to His Royal Highness, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, while [bin Salman] conveyed his greetings to [Putin]".
Bin Salman and Lavrentiev primarily discussed the ongoing attempts to find a political solution for Syria, which has been undergoing over a decade of civil war and foreign military intervention. They also discussed bilateral ties between Riyadh and Moscow.
Other Saudi and Russian ministers attended the meeting with them, including Dr Musaed bin Muhammad Al-Aiban, the Saudi Minister of State and National Security Adviser, and Khalid bin Ali Al-Humaidan, the Chief of General Intelligence.
Although it has not yet been revealed what exactly was stated in the meeting, it notably took place only a day after Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, began a two-day trip to Moscow in which he brought up the situation in Syria as well as praising and emphasising "counter-terrorism" cooperation with Russia in the country.
Saudi Arabia has not been involved in the Syrian conflict and peace process for several years, and was one of the countries in the region which cut diplomatic ties with the regime of Bashar Al-Assad following the start of the Syrian revolution in 2011 and the brutal crackdown on peaceful protestors.
But as the Syrian opposition groups were pushed further north and Assad regained control of much of his former territory with the help of Russia and Iran, some states in the region have restored their relations with the regime.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) re-established its embassy in Damascus in 2018, and Oman reappointed its envoy to Syria in 2020. Riyadh's stance with regard to Syria has been complicated, though, as the kingdom has refrained from restoring ties with Assad and only stated that it was too early to do so.
That changed in May last year, when a Saudi delegation visited Damascus to meet with Assad for plans to re-open its embassy in the Syrian capital, which was then followed by a Syrian delegation visiting the Kingdom for the first time in a decade.