Russian President Vladimir Puttin landed in the Middle East on Wednesday and met with top officials in the UAE and Saudi Arabia to discuss “cooperation”, as well as the conflict in Gaza, according to official announcements.

Putin, who has rarely travelled outside Russia since the start of the Ukraine war, first arrived in Abu Dhabi, where he met with UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, before jetting off to Riyadh for a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

“Today in Abu Dhabi I discussed with President Vladimir Putin the ties between our two nations, and the importance of strengthening dialogue and cooperation to ensure stability and progress,” said Al Nahyan on Twitter.

“The UAE will continue to support efforts aimed at enabling global growth, prosperity and development for all,” the president said, without specifying the topics discussed during the visit.

According to earlier reports, Putin was expected to take up current issues, including the Israel and Ukraine wars, as well as oil production.

In Saudi Arabia, Putin met with Bin Salman “as part of the ongoing communication” between the kingdom and Russia, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported late Wednesday.

Among the topics discussed was the conflict in Gaza.

“The Russian president’s current visit to the kingdom is a continuation of the efforts made by [the crown prince] to engage with influential international parties to coordinate collective global action and halt military operations in Gaza,” the state news agency said.

The two leaders also discussed bilateral relations, according to Russian state news agency Tass.

Putin’s trip to the Middle East came shortly after members of OPEC+ agreed to cut oil production in the first quarter of 2024.

(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)