Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Saudi Arabiaâ€™s defence minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Salman, on Sunday, in Moscowâ€™s most important attemptÂ so far to reach out to enemies of Syriaâ€™s President Bashar al-Assad, since Russia joined the conflict with airÂ strikes.
Speaking after the meeting , Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said both countries wereÂ willing to cooperate inÂ SyriaÂ and wanted to prevent the formation of a â€œterrorist caliphateâ€.
â€œOn both sides, as far as I can tell, there is an understanding that todayâ€™s meeting can advance our cooperation,â€ Lavrov said.
Russiaâ€™s intervention in Syria has infuriated Assadâ€™s regional foes, including Saudi Arabia, who sayRussian air strikesÂ have been hitting rebel groups opposed to Assad, andÂ not just the Islamic State fighters Moscow says it is targeting.
Lavrov acknowledged that Saudi Arabia had â€œconcernsâ€ about Russiaâ€™s aims but said it was targeting only extremists, including Islamic State and Jabhat al Nusra, a groupÂ linked to al Qaeda.
The Russian air strikes derailed a tentative detente between the two countries earlier this year, which aimed to smooth tensions over Syria and relations with Riyadhâ€™sÂ regional rival Iran.