Chinese President Xi Jinping’s possible visit to Saudi Arabia has been announced by Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the foreign minister of the oil-rich country. News from AFP.

The visit to Saudi Arabia comes days after Xi, the leader of the world’s most populous country, was sworn in for a third term.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan hailed the ‘historic and strong relationship’ between the major oil exporter and Beijing after talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

In a video statement broadcast on Saudi television, Prince Faisal said, ‘Our meeting today comes at an important time. Because the meeting has been held ahead of the expected visit of the Chinese President to the state.’

He further said that Saudi Arabia is making final arrangements for a summit between China and Arab countries.

Xi, who took power for a third term in China last week, visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in September. This was his first trip outside China since the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the Chinese Embassy in Saudi Arabia could not give a specific date on when Xi will visit Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China said that they have no information to report on this matter.

Rumors of the possible visit came amid strained relations between Saudi Arabia and longtime ally the United States after the OPEC plus cartel cut oil production, largely ignoring requests from Washington.

US President Joe Biden reacted angrily to the decision of OPEC Plus. Wang said Saudi Arabia has a priority position in China’s overall diplomacy.

Xi visited Saudi Arabia in January 2016, a year before Prince Mohammed was named heir to the throne. The Saudi crown prince visited China in early 2019.

(28 October)