Strengthening trade ties and regional security will be top priorities during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said on Saturday.
The visit, which two sources said was scheduled for December, comes at a time when relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States have been strained by a dispute over oil supplies, as well as concerns in the United States about growing cooperation between Gulf Arab states and China.
Jubeir did not elaborate on the trip, but stated that contacts between Chinese and Saudi leaders were ‘normal.’
‘China is Saudi Arabia’s greatest commercial partner; we have significant investments in China, and the Chinese have significant investments in Saudi Arabia,’ he told Reuters on the margins of the COP27 climate summit in Egypt.
‘We have significant equities at stake, and these trips are not unusual,’ Jubeir explained. ‘The same is true for our other commercial and strategic partners, whether they be the United States, the United Kingdom, France, or Germany; this is what governments do.’
According to two sources familiar with the discussions leading up to Xi’s visit, the Chinese leader was scheduled to visit in the second half of December and attend a China-Gulf summit alongside leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), as well as a second planned summit with other Arab leaders.
When asked about the trip’s aims, Jubeir, who is also the kingdom’s climate envoy, said: ‘We look at what we care about: peace and security in the area and throughout the world, how to enhance further commerce and investment between both countries, and, of course, climate change is now at the top of the international relations agenda.’