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Xi Jinping to Embark on 3-day Visit to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, to Participate in China-Arab Summit

By: News Desk

Edited By: Majid Alam

News18.com

Last Updated: December 07, 2022, 08:09 IST

New Delhi, India

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (AFP)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (AFP)

Xi Jinping's trip to Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh will include a China-Arab summit in which 14 Arab heads of states are expected to attend

Chinese President Xi Jinping will make a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia from Wednesday, meeting the king and de facto ruler of the world’s biggest oil exporter.

Xi will arrive on Wednesday, the official Saudi Press Agency said, for only his third trip abroad since the coronavirus pandemic began and his first to Saudi Arabia since 2016.

Xi, head of the world’s number-two economy, will also attend China-Arab summit in which 14 Arab heads of states are expected to attend. He will also hold talks with leaders from elsewhere in the Middle East, strengthening China’s growing ties with the region.

The bloc’s chief, Nayef al-Hajraf, emphasised “the importance of GCC-Chinese relations", noting in the statement that China is “ranked first on the list of the GCC countries’ trade partners".

The bilateral summit, chaired by King Salman and attended by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, comes after Xi secured a historic third term in November.

Xi’s visit reflects “much deeper relations developed in recent years" between the two countries, said Ali Shihabi, a Saudi analyst close to the government.

“As the largest importer of Saudi oil, China is a critically important partner and military relations have been developing strongly," he said, adding that he expected “a number of agreements to be signed".

Last week, the Saudi government sent out registration forms for reporters to cover the summit, without confirming the exact dates.

Xi’s visit also coincides with heightened tensions between Saudi Arabia and the United States over issues ranging from energy policy to regional security and human rights.

The latest blow to that decades-old partnership came in October when the OPEC+ oil bloc agreed to cut production by two million barrels a day, a move the White House said amounted to “aligning with Russia" on the war in Ukraine.

On Sunday, OPEC+ opted to keep those cuts in place. Shihabi said the timing was “a coincidence and not directed at US".

Xi last visited Saudi Arabia in 2016, the year before Prince Mohammed became first in line to the throne, on a trip that also featured stops in Egypt and Saudi rival Iran.

Prince Mohammed visited China and met with Xi on an Asia tour in 2019, the year before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

This week’s meeting will cap a year in which Saudi Arabia, and specifically Prince Mohammed, have come in from the cold following the fierce international outcry that erupted over the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.

This year, Prince Mohammed has already welcomed Britain’s then-prime minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden, who greeted the crown prince with a fist bump in Jeddah, reversing a 2019 pledge to make Saudi Arabia “a pariah".

(With inputs from AFP)

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first published:December 07, 2022, 08:02 IST
last updated:December 07, 2022, 08:09 IST
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