Xi: Build on Saudi-Iranian reconciliation

By ZHANG YUNBI (Chinadaily.com.cn) 08:30, March 29, 2023

President Xi Jinping has pledged China's support for the future improvement of Saudi Arabia-Iran relations, voicing hope that the two Middle East countries can build on their recent landmark dialogue in Beijing.

Xi made the remarks while holding talks by phone on Tuesday with Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.

After days of talks in Beijing, China, Saudi Arabia and Iran issued a joint statement on March 10 saying that the two Middle East countries agreed to resume diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies and missions within two months.

Following the dialogue, the Middle East has seen a growing trend of seeking reconciliation, with relations improving between Saudi Arabia and Syria, Israel and some Arab states, and Iran and some other Gulf region countries, observers noted.

In Tuesday's phone conversation, Xi noted that the Beijing dialogue and its major outcomes are conducive to the improvement of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, "had a significant exemplary effect on enhancing the unity and cooperation of countries in the region and easing tension in the region", and were broadly praised by the international community.

The recent increase in the momentum of de-escalation among the countries in the region "fully demonstrates that resolving conflicts and differences through dialogue and consultation is in line with the hearts of the people, the trend of the times and the interests of all countries", he said.

Xi voiced his hope that Saudi Arabia and Iran will "uphold the spirit of good neighborliness and continue to improve relations on the basis of the results of the Beijing dialogue", adding that China is ready to continue to support the follow-up process of the Saudi-Iranian dialogue.

The Saudi crown prince conveyed Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's greetings to Xi and congratulations on Xi's election as president.

He said Riyadh sincerely appreciates Beijing's strong support for improving relations with Iran, which demonstrates China's role as a responsible major country.

China is playing an increasingly pivotal and constructive role in regional and international affairs, and Saudi Arabia speaks highly of this, he added.

Su Xiaohui, an associate research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, said that key countries' critical roles in mediation and peacemaking "should not be ignored".

"Beijing's role as a key mediator has shored up hope among more Middle East countries that they can also find a way out from complicated issues through peaceful means — through negotiations," she said.

Some countries in the region are thawing the ice between them on various fronts — not just in diplomacy and politics, but also regarding security and economy, she said.

"There are some common pursuits and interests among these countries that gave rise to their more constructive engagement with each other. One common ground is that although some deep-seated problems cannot be wiped out overnight, the nations all need enabling circumstances for their own development," she said.

The recent shrinking strategic presence of the United States in the region has also improved the chances for peace, she added.

Speaking on Sino-Saudi ties, Xi said that the relationship is in the best shape of all time.

Xi said China is willing to continue to work with Saudi Arabia to "firmly support each other on issues related to core interests of one another" and expand practical cooperation and cultural exchanges.

The Saudi crown prince said China is an important partner of Saudi Arabia, and his country attaches great importance to the development of relations with China and is willing to work with China to usher in new prospects for bilateral cooperation.

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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