China’s Xi, Saudi’s Salman laud each other for peace talks with Iran

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Beijing brokered an agreement between bitter rivals Tehran and Riyadh on March 10, following five days of negotiations in Beijing, to restore diplomatic ties following a seven-year snap in ties

Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping lauded the recent Saudi Arabia-Iran talks in Beijing as successful and achieving “significant results” in improving ties between the two countries, in his first comments on the tripartite dialogue held earlier in March, during a phone call with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday.

Beijing brokered an agreement between bitter rivals Tehran and Riyadh on March 10, following five days of negotiations in Beijing, to restore diplomatic ties following a seven-year snap in ties.

The unexpected move, which reflected China’s expanding influence in West Asia, seemingly caught the US unawares and is being seen as a sign of Washington’s erosion of sway in the region.

The closed-door talks “…were successfully held and achieved significant results, helping Saudi Arabia and Iran improve their relations”, Xi said in his first comments on it, adding that it had a “significant demonstration effect on enhancing the unity and cooperation of regional countries and easing regional tensions…”

Following the talks, the two regional foes agreed to resume diplomatic relations and reopen embassies within two months.

On Monday, Iran and Saudi Arabia announced that their top diplomats have agreed to meet before the end of the holy month of Ramzan to take the Beijing-brokered deal forward.

Xi told Salman, who is also the Saudi prime minister, that the “momentum of detente among regional countries has been growing remarkably” and is an example that “contradiction and differences” could be resolved through “dialogue and consultation”.

Xi said Riyadh and Tehran would “uphold the spirit of good neighbourliness and continue to improve their relations on the basis of the results of their talks in Beijing”.

“China is ready to continue to support the follow-up process of the Saudi-Iranian talks,” he said

The Saudi leader, in turn, said he “sincerely appreciates” China for its “strong support for Saudi Arabia and Iran improving their relations, which has fully demonstrated China’s role as a responsible major country”.

“China is increasingly playing an important and constructive role in regional and international affairs, which is highly appreciated by the Saudi side,” he said, according to the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, adding that China is an important partner of Saudi Arabia.

That partnership actually got stronger over Sunday and Monday when Saudi state giant Saudi Aramco said it would take a 10% stake in Rongsheng Petrochemical Co., a giant oil complex, for roughly $3.6 billion.

“The deal significantly increases its refining presence in China, but also ties it more closely to a key demand market, ensuring it will supply 480,000 barrels a day to Rongsheng’s refinery in the eastern province of Zhejiang,” Bloomberg said in a report.

A day earlier, Aramco signed a deal to build a huge refining and petrochemical complex for the world’s biggest oil importer in the northeastern province of Liaoning.

The two deals together would see Aramco supplying the two Chinese companies with a combined 690,000 barrels a day of crude oil, bolstering its rank as China’s top provider of the commodity, Reuters reported.