Russia's Return to Middle East to Help Resolve Complex Issues - Saudi Official

North Korea

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday that talks with Riyadh about buying its S-400 air-defense system were going well despite Saudi Arabia's THAAD order with the U.S.

"This sale furthers US national security and foreign policy interests, and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats", a statement said.

Despite increasing criticism over the United States' military sales to Saudi Arabia, the US State Department has paved the way for the potential purchase of controversial - and expensive - military equipment.

When asked about fears that Saudi Arabia could use the S-400 system against Iran, a Russian ally, Peskov said Moscow's decision to offer the missiles to Riyadh was not aimed at any third party.

Iran, whose hostile behaviour has got the United States and Saudi Arabia concerned recently, also happens to have one of the biggest ballistic missile programs in the Middle East.

"THAAD's exo-atmospheric, hit-to-kill capability will add an upper-tier to Saudi Arabia's layered missile defence architecture".

Russia has agreed to supply Saudi Arabia with a range of sophisticated modern weapons including S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems, the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said Monday.

Lockheed Martin Co is the prime contractor for the THAAD system, with Raytheon Co playing an important role in the system's deployment. "This visit is the beginning of strategic cooperation", al Harithi said.

Saudi Arabia typically buys its military hardware from the US or the U.K., and the S-400 deal could signal a shift in politics as the kingdom needs Russian Federation to support oil prices.

Last week, Australia said it will outfit its new naval warships with Lockheed's Aegis air-defense system, which is also used by the USA and Japan and would help the three navies coordinate on missile-defense missions.

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