China’s Xi offers support for Saudi Arabia amid regional uncertainty

President Xi Jinping and King Salman shake hands at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 16, 2017.

:: China supports Saudi Arabia’s efforts to safeguard national sovereignty and achieve greater development, President Xi Jinping told Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, at a time of regional tensions between Saudi Arabia, Iran, Lebanon and Yemen.

China has traditionally played little role in Middle East conflicts or diplomacy, despite its reliance on the region for oil. But it has been trying to raise its profile, with Salman visiting China in March.

Speaking by telephone, Xi told Salman that China’s determination to deepen strategic cooperation with Saudi Arabia will not waver, no matter how the international and regional situation changes, China’s Foreign Ministry said late on Thursday.

Remarking on the importance of maintaining close communication between the two countries’ heads of state, Xi said China and Saudi Arabia are comprehensive strategic partners whose strategic mutual trust is deepening.

“China supports Saudi Arabia’s efforts to safeguard national sovereignty and realize greater development,” the ministry cited Xi as saying, without elaborating. The statement made no specific mention of issues like the resignation as Lebanon Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.

Saudi-led forces, which back the government in Yemen, have also been targeting the Iran-allied Houthis in a more than two-year war there. The ministry statement said Xi and Salman also exchanged views on international and regional issues of common concern, but gave no details.

Saudi King Salman reviews an honor guard with Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) in Beijing on March 16, 2017.

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