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President Xi meets Saudi crown prince

2022-12-08 HKT 21:30
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  • President Xi Jinping holds talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Yamamah Palace in Riyadh. Photo: Royal Court of Saudi Arabia via AFP
    President Xi Jinping holds talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Yamamah Palace in Riyadh. Photo: Royal Court of Saudi Arabia via AFP
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received visiting President Xi Jinping on Thursday as Xi heralded a new era in relations between China and the Arab world.

The president, who flew in on Wednesday, was greeted with a handshake by 37-year-old crown prince, de facto ruler of the world's biggest oil exporter, at Yamamah Palace in Riyadh.

The two leaders held an official meeting with the crown prince "wishing him, his delegation a pleasant stay" in Saudi Arabia, Saudi state news SPA reported.

Chinese and Saudi firms also signed 34 deals for investment in green energy, information technology, cloud services, transport, construction and other sectors, SPA reported. It gave no figures, but had earlier said the two countries would seal initial agreements worth US$30 billion.

In an op-ed published in Saudi media, Xi said he was on a "pioneering trip" to "open a new era of China's relations with the Arab world, the Arab countries of the Gulf, and Saudi Arabia."

China and Arab countries would "continue to hold high the banner of non-interference in internal affairs, firmly support each other in safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity," he wrote.

Xi also noted that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – serve as “an energy tank for world economy.”

Arab leaders began to converge on the Saudi capital ahead of a summit with Xi, who will hold separate talks with the six-member GCC.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Tunisian President Kais Saied, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Sudan's de facto leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan were all flying in on Thursday. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch and Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati have also confirmed their attendance. (Agencies)