Saudi Arabia gathers China's Xi with Arab leaders in 'new era' of ties

AFP - BANDAR AL-JALOUD

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Arab leaders on Friday at "milestone" summits hosted by Saudi Arabia in a show of strength by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as an aspiring leader of the Middle East and key partner for global powers.

Leaders of Arab League states spanning the Gulf, Levant and Africa began arriving in Riyadh on Thursday when Xi received a lavish reception by Prince Mohammed and signed a China-Saudi partnership pact with King Salman, demonstrating deepening ties.

The United States is warily watching the growing influence of economic rival Beijing in the region, where China has vested interest as the world's biggest energy consumer and Chinese firms are expanding into technology and other infrastructure.

Xi's visit also comes at a time when Riyadh's long-standing alliance with Washington has been strained over human rights, energy policy and Russia, as well as Gulf doubts about the commitment of main security guarantor America to the region.

Enhanced cooperation

In a lengthy joint statement on Friday, Beijing and Riyadh pledged to enhance cooperation and stressed principles of sovereignty and "non-interference", while affirming the importance of a peaceful solution to the Ukraine conflict.

Oil giant Saudi Arabia is a top supplier to China and the joint statement reaffirmed the importance of global market stability and energy collaboration, while striving to boost non-oil trade and enhance cooperation in peaceful nuclear power.

"The two sides reaffirmed that they will continue to firmly support each other's core interests."

Riyadh voiced support for Beijing's "One China" policy on the issue of Taiwan. Xi invited King Salman to visit China, Saudi state television reported.

Milestones


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