China, Saudi Arabia elevate ties

China and Saudi Arabia have agreed to lift their bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership, eyeing more industrial capacity cooperation.

The Chinese president is in Saudi Arabia on the first stop of his three-nation tour of the Middle East, as the world’s second-largest economy seeks closer political and economic ties with the region.

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the first state visit by a Chinese head of state to the country in seven years.

On the same day, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud held talks with Chinese President Xi and the two agreed to upgrade bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

After the talks, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding in industrial capacity cooperation.

The document also said they will jointly pursue the China-proposed “Belt and Road” initiative.

The two leaders agreed to boost strategic communication, maximize the synergy of their development plans, build a stable long-term energy cooperation, and promote dialogues between the civilizations.

They also pledged to make the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank a win-win financing platform whereby regional interconnectivity can receive a boost.

China and Saudi Arabia vowed to increase cooperation in security as well as regional and international affairs.

The two countries said they resolutely oppose terrorism in any form that threatens world peace and stability, and that they are “against linking terrorism with any religion or religious sect.”

The Chinese president was awarded the King Abdulaziz Medal by Salman, the highest order in Saudi Arabia.

Chinese President Xi also met the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Secretary-General Iyad Ameen Madani on Tuesday.

Xi said China and the organization, in more than 40 years of friendly exchanges, have found a way for different cultures, religions and social systems to get along.

Iyad said that the organization appreciates China’s position on Middle East issues and expects China to play an even greater role on Middle East and African affairs.

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