Xi vows security, energy cooperation at Saudi summits

97

Holds meeting with Gulf leaders

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday touted close security and energy ties with Gulf nations during summit meetings in Saudi Arabia that have highlighted tensions with Washington.

On the third and final day of his visit, Xi attended summits of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council and a broader China-Arab leaders’ meeting.

The discussions came one day after bilateral sit-downs with Saudi royals yielded a joint statement stressing “the importance of stability” in oil markets.

“China will continue to firmly support the GCC countries in maintaining their own security… and build a collective security framework for the Gulf,” Xi said at the start of the China-GCC summit.

“China will continue to import large quantities of crude oil from GCC countries on an ongoing basis,” he said, also vowing to expand other areas of energy cooperation, including liquefied natural gas imports.

Forty-six bilateral agreements and memorandums of understanding were announced on everything from housing to Chinese language teaching. Both sides are seeking economic and strategic benefits by deepening cooperation.

President Xi Jinping met Gulf Arab leaders on Friday in the first of two “milestone” Arab summits showcasing Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as an aspiring leader of the Middle East and key partner for global powers.

Xi, who has been welcomed in Saudi Arabia with pomp and ceremony, signed a strategic partnership pact with the world’s top oil exporter a day before Friday’s meeting with the energy-rich, six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.

At the start of the China-GCC summit, Prince Mohammed heralded a “historic new phase of relations with China”.

He earlier pledged that Gulf states would remain “a safe and reliable source to supply the world with its energy needs”, underlining that oil and gas would continue to be important energy sources for decades.

In a lengthy joint statement, Beijing and Riyadh committed to enhancing cooperation and stressed principles of sovereignty and “non-interference”, while affirming the importance of a peaceful solution to the Ukraine conflict.