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Saudi business could turn to Russia & China as relations with West sour – analyst

The threat of Western sanctions against Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi could tilt the kingdom eastward, an analyst says.

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“If the US and West in general move toward some meaningful sanctions of Saudi Arabia, we would be joking to imagine that the Saudis would just sit down and accept it,” Ayham Kamel, head of Eurasia Groups Middle East and North Africa practice, told CNBC.

Germany has paused selling arms to Saudi Arabia, and opponents of US President Donald Trump among American lawmakers are also pushing for such a move.

“The Saudis I think will begin to tilt — they were already doing that beforehand — theyll be doing more business with China and Russia,” the analyst said.

China is Saudi Arabias largest trading partner with a $42 billion turnover last year. In March 2017, the countries signed contracts worth up to $65 billion. The kingdom has also hinted that it could turn to oil trade in Chinese yuan in retaliation for probable US sanctions.

Relations between Russia and the house of Saud have also improved recently. King Salman visited Russia last year for the first time in history. The countries have successfully clinched a deal to curb oil output within the OPEC+ group, and Russia is ready to sell its S-400 missile defense system to Saudi Arabia.

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