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Xi Jinping speaks with Saudi crown prince, supports Saudi-Iran talks

Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke by phone with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday, discussing a wide range of subjects including supporting follow-up talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran, state media reported.

Xi Jinping asked Mohammed to convey his greetings to King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and praised the recent normalization of relations between Tehran and Riyadh, which China sponsored. He said the dialogue “helped improve bilateral relations between the two countries” and “reinforced regional solidarity”.

Xi Jinping said he hoped that the two sides would continuously improve their relations on the basis of the results of the dialogue and make more contributions to promote peace, stability and development in the Middle East.

Mohammed expressed his appreciation for China’s initiative to support “efforts to develop good neighborliness” between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran and stressed the importance of strategic ties between Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, and economic powerhouse China, a leading trade partner of Gulf states.

The two leaders also agreed to deepen cooperation in various fields such as energy, trade, investment, infrastructure, and technology.

The phone conversation came after China helped broker a surprise deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Middle East rivals, earlier this month to restore diplomatic ties, in a display of China’s growing influence in the region which is being warily watched by the United States.

The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran are expected to meet during the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan after Riyadh and Tehran agreed, following talks in Beijing, to revive relations after years of hostility that had threatened stability in the Gulf and helped fuel conflicts in the Middle East.

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