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China-Arab summit to be held in Saudi Arabia during Xi visit

President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping attends the opening ceremony of the G20 Leaders' Summit in Bali's southern peninsula Nusa Dua, Indonesia on November 15, 2022. [Prasetyo Utomo / Antara Photo /Pool - Anadolu Agency]
President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping attends the opening ceremony of the G20 Leaders' Summit in Bali's southern peninsula Nusa Dua, Indonesia on November 15, 2022. [Prasetyo Utomo / Antara Photo /Pool - Anadolu Agency]

Saudi Arabia is to host a Chinese-Arab summit on 9 December, which will coincide with Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the Kingdom, Reuters reported yesterday, citing three Arab diplomats.

A Chinese delegation led by Xi is scheduled to arrive in Riyadh on 7 December, said two of the diplomats, and a fourth source with direct knowledge of the visit. The delegation is expected to sign dozens of agreements and memoranda of understanding with several Arab States covering energy, security and investments, the diplomats revealed.

"The level of representation depends on each country, with many Arab leaders expected to attend; others would send at least their foreign ministers," one of the Arab diplomats told Reuters.

The visit and summit comes against the backdrop of strained relations between Riyadh and the US over the decision by OPEC+ to cut oil output by two million barrels per day, against the requests by the Biden administration to do the opposite. Saudi Arabia and neighbouring UAE have also resisted US pressure to "choose sides" with regards to their ties with China and Russia.

News of the planned summit also follows the publication of a report by the Pentagon, which asserted that Beijing had "significantly" increased efforts to engage with countries in the Middle East.

"As Beijing's economic interests expand in areas like Africa, Latin America, Central Asia and the Middle East, we expect to see increased focus on expanding power projection operations globally," the Pentagon said as part of its annual "China Military Power" report.

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