SOUTH CHINA MORNING - JAN. 20, 2016
China will balance the interests of Saudi Arabia and Iran, while calling for dialogue to resolve tensions, senior diplomat says ahead of state trip
China aims to evenly weigh the interests of Saudi Arabia and Iran as
Beijing deepens its role in the region, a top Chinese diplomat said
ahead of President Xi Jinping’s first Middle East tour.
Xi will arrive in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, becoming the first Chinese
president to visit the kingdom since 2009. He is also scheduled to
visit Egypt and Iran.
The trip comes at a tricky time – Riyadh and Tehran severed
diplomatic relations earlier this month over the storming of Saudi
Arabia’s embassy in Iran after the kingdom executed a prominent Shiite
Muslim cleric. The last state visit to Iran by a Chinese president was
“China has always maintained a just and balanced stance and is
dedicated to promoting peace and stability in the Middle East,” said
Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Ming on Monday. “China calls for parties
involved to resolve conflicts and disputes to promote regional
stability, which suits the mutual interests of countries in the region,
China and the international community.”
Zhang, who visited Saudi Arabia and Iran earlier this month, said Xi
would “exchange opinions on regional disputes with country leaders”.
China intends to sign an action plan to enhance its comprehensive
strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia over the next five to 10 years,
and establish a strategic partnership with Iran.