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Xi is visiting Saudi Arabia amid strained relations with the United States


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Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to arrive Kingdom Saudi Arabia newspaper reported The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Xi’s trip to Riyadh begins Wednesday and will include a “Saudi-Chinese summit,” prof Arab China A summit and a summit between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, according to the Saudi Press Agency, which said “the prospects for economic and development cooperation will be discussed.”

At least 14 Arab heads of state are expected to attend the China-Arab summit, according to an Arab diplomatic source who described the trip to CNN as a “milestone” in Arab-Chinese relations.

After the announcement, the Saudi Press Agency published “Historical accountFor Saudi-Chinese relations, noting that the close relations between the two countries extend over eight long decades.

Rumors of a Chinese presidential visit to the largest US ally in the Middle East have been circulating for months. Beijing has yet to make an official announcement about the trip; When asked about it during a regular briefing at the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, Spokesperson Mao Ning said she did not have any information to provide.

Last week, the Saudi government sent registration forms to journalists to cover the summit, without confirming exact dates. The Saudi government refused to respond to CNN’s request for information about Xi’s visit and the planned summits.

Reports of the long-awaited visit come against the backdrop of a number of rifts the United States fears toward both Beijing and Riyadh, which to Washington’s chagrin have only led to a warming of relations in recent years.

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The US and Saudi Arabia remain embroiled in a heated row over oil production, which culminated in October with strong rhetoric and tit-for-tat when the Saudi-led OPEC+ oil cartel cut production by 2 million barrels per day in an effort to “stabilize” prices. . The decision was made despite the intense US campaign against it.

Saudi Arabia, a staunch US ally for eight long decades, has become embittered by what it sees as the diminishing US security presence in the region, especially amid growing threats from Iran and its armed Yemeni proxies.

China is an economic giant in the east, and has been at odds with the United States over Taiwan, which US President Joe Biden has repeatedly vowed to protect in the event of a Chinese attack. This thorny topic has exacerbated the uneasy relationship between Washington and Beijing, which are already vying for influence in the volatile Middle East.

At a time when America’s allies in the Arab Gulf accuse Washington of defaulting on its security guarantees in the region, China is working to strengthen its relations with the Gulf states, as well as with the enemies of the United States, Iran and Russia.

China and Saudi Arabia have taken different positions towards the West regarding the Ukraine war. Both have refrained from endorsing sanctions on Russia, and Riyadh has repeatedly emphasized that Moscow is a major energy production partner that should be consulted on OPEC+ decisions. After last month’s massive oil cut, some US officials accused Saudi Arabia of siding with Russia and aiding President Vladimir Putin in his war on Ukraine.

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Saudi officials denied arming the oil or siding with Russia.

Biden said in October that the US should “rethink” its relationship with Saudi Arabia, which the president apparently tried to repair on a visit to Riyadh in July. After vowing to turn the kingdom into a “pariah” and condemning Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Biden traveled to Riyadh amid global oil shortages and greeted bin Salman with a fist of global headlines.

However, the frigid visit ultimately did not result in any increases in oil production but only exacerbated tensions.

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