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China supports peace in Middle East, Xi says

By Zhou Wa ( China Daily ) Updated: 2013-05-18 07:57:50

 China supports peace in Middle East, Xi says

A Syrian rebel fighter takes a break in the city of Aleppo on May 9. Due to its connections with Syria's opposition bloc, Saudi Arabia plays an important role in the country's crisis, said Hua Liming, former Chinese ambassador to Iran. Provided by Agence France-Presse

China supports peace in Middle East, Xi says

Experts say Saudi FM's visit will have positive influence on bilateral ties

China would like to further strengthen communication and coordination with Saudi Arabia to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East, President Xi Jinping told Saudi Arabia's visiting foreign minister on Friday.

Observers said the minister's visit will wield a positive influence over ties between China and Saudi Arabia and contribute to maintaining peace and stability in the Middle East.

While meeting Prince Saud al-Faisal, Xi said the situation in the Middle East is undergoing complex and profound changes, and China has been dedicated to promoting dialogue and negotiations, and pushing for a political settlement to the problems in the region.

No matter how the international situation changes, it is always a set policy of China to develop friendly relations with Saudi Arabia. China has consistently viewed Beijing-Riyadh ties from a strategic plane and with a long-term vision, Xi said.

Xi urged the two countries to further promote their exchanges, deepen mutual trust, build a more mature, stable and sustainable Sino-Saudi strategic relationship and promote the cooperation between China and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council - a political and economic union of six Arab states on the Persian Gulf.

Yao Kuangyi, former Chinese ambassador to Turkey and an expert on Middle East studies, said China-Saudi Arabia ties have developed very well over the years, and the strategic cooperation in the energy sector between the two countries is important for both sides.

Saudi Arabia plays an influential role in the Middle East, so strengthening ties with the country can further boost China's ties with the region, he said.

China and Saudi Arabia enjoyed comprehensive and in-depth development of bilateral relations and fruitful cooperation in all fields since diplomatic ties were established in 1990.

The two countries maintained frequent exchanges of visits and deepened political mutual trust, as cooperation between the two countries in economy, trade, energy and infrastructure steadily progressed.

The foreign minister also values Riyadh's ties with Beijing, saying that Saudi Arabia places a high priority on bilateral ties and hopes to further enhance communication and cooperation.

Saudi Arabia also would like to increase consultations and coordination with China on major regional issues, said the minister.

The Middle East drew the world's attention as the Syrian crisis escalated and violence and wars raged in the country, and fears aroused that the instability there may spread beyond the country.

Connected with the Syrian opposition bloc, Saudi Arabia plays an important role in the Syrian crisis, said Hua Liming, former Chinese ambassador to Iran and an expert on Middle East studies.

Saudi Arabia can wield more influence on the Syrian opposition and draw it back to the negotiation table, he said.

Meanwhile, UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Russia agreed on Friday that a peace conference on Syria should be held "as soon as possible" even as Moscow defies growing global pressure over its arms supplies to the Damascus government.

Ban met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about an impending international meeting on Syria that should include representatives of the two warring parties for the first time.

"There are high expectations, and the meeting should be held as soon as possible," Ban told reporters alongside Lavrov. Russia's top diplomat added: "The sooner this conference is held, the better."

Zhang Fan and AFP contributed to the story.

zhouwa@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 05/18/2013 page8)

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