Ukraine’s Zelenskiy lands in Jeddah to attend Arab League
FILE PHOTO: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a joint press conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (not pictured), amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 9, 2023. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File Photo
DUBAI (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy landed in Jeddah on Friday to attend an Arab League summit, where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, heavily-backed by Russia in his country's civil war, will also be present now that his regional isolation ended.
Zelenskiy arrived on a French government plane. He is also due to attend the G7 leaders' summit in the Japanese city of Hiroshima this weekend.
"Kingdom of Saudi Arabia plays a significant role and we are ready to take our cooperation to a new level," he tweeted shortly after arrival.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has mediated in the Russia-Ukraine conflict before.
Last year Prince Mohammed won a diplomatic triumph when he secured the release of 10 foreigners captured by Russia in Ukraine. The move was apparently made possible by his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Gulf states have tried to remain neutral in the Ukraine conflict despite Western pressure on Gulf oil producers to help isolate Russia, a fellow OPEC+ member.
The kingdom faced heavy criticism from the United States over an OPEC+ decision to cut oil production, seen as helping Russia to refill its coffers by boosting prices.
Even though the October decision initially drew heavy criticism from the United States and other Western countries, market dynamics since then have shown the cuts to be prudent.
At a time when Russia's war on the Ukraine has roiled global energy markets, the role the kingdom plays as the world's largest oil exporter has grown in importance to both Washington and Moscow.
(Reporting by Clauda Tanios and Jana Choukeir; Writing by Michael Georgy and Maha El Dahan: Editing by Alex Richardson, William Maclean)