Wednesday, 27 January, 2016

China, Saudi Arabia agree to set up high-level committee to steer cooperation

Allison Shelley Getty Images
Dana Christensen | 22 January, 2016, 14:33

This was agreed by visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters. The government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi is now based in the southern city of Aden.

In an official readout of their meeting, Saudi Arabia said that King Salman had decorated the Chinese president with the country's most prestigious medal, named after the country's founder, King Abdelaziz.

"It is one of the major outcomes of President Xi's visit to Saudi Arabia, and also the first major step for the two sides to build a comprehensive strategic partnership", Wang said.

He was to depart later in the day for Egypt and will also travel to Saudi Arabia's rival Iran.

Tensions ran high between Iran and Saudi Arabia in recent weeks mainly due to Riyadh's execution of prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, and a subsequent attack by outraged Iranian protesters on the Saudi embassy in Tehran, which resulted in the Arab country's decision to sever its ties with the Islamic Republic.

The Foreign Office said in its statement that Pakistan enjoyed cordial and brotherly relations with both the countries, which were characterised by strong bonds of affinity, mutual respect and solidarity, and drew strength from shared historical, cultural and Islamic values.

Meanwhile the Foreign Ministry of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday accused the regime in Tehran of a almost fourdecade record of "sedition, unrest and chaos". It had also always acted in the interests of maintaining peace in the Middle East, and had promoted peace talks, he said. It is hoped that Yemen would end conflicts, realize reconciliation, restore stability and achieve economic and social development at an early date.

China relies on the region for oil but has tended to leave Middle Eastern diplomacy to the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council - the United States, Britain, France and Russian Federation.

Analysts for The Diplomat suggest that China may have expressed support for the Yemeni government over the Houthis both to ingratiate itself with Saudi Arabia and to remain consistent in supporting "stable" regimes over rebellion, having to quell its share of separatism in western Xinjiang province, Taiwan, and Hong Kong itself.

Militants have taken advantage of the security vacuum in Yemen to capture territory and expand their reach.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif left for Riyadh on Monday in order to mediate between Saudia Arabia and Iran amid growing fears that a prolonged confrontation could have serious consequences for the region.

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