Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to reach Saudi Arabia on Thursday amid the tension between the US and the two countries.
According to CNN citing sources, Xi’s trip to Arabia’s capital Riyadh will include a China-Arab summit in which 14 Arab heads of states are expected to attend.
During the two-day visit, a China-GCC conference is also expected to take place.
Rumours of a Chinese presidential visit to the US largest Middle East ally have been circulating for months. Still, they are yet to be confirmed by the governments of Saudi Arabia and China.
Last week, the Saudi government sent out registration forms for reporters to cover the summit, without confirming the exact dates. The Saudi government declined to respond to CNN’s request for information about Xi’s visit and the planned summits.
The US and Saudi Arabia are still embroiled in a heated spat over oil production, which in October culminated in strong rhetoric and traded accusations when the Saudi-led oil cartel OPEC+ slashed output by two million barrels per day in an effort to “stabilize” prices. The decision was taken despite heavy US campaigning against it, according to CNN.
In July, US President Joe Biden paid a visit to Saudi Arabia where he raised the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi during his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Biden said that he believed the Saudi leader was responsible for the US-based journalist’s death.
“I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time and what I think of it now,” Biden said in a speech after hours of meetings with the Saudi Crown Prince in Jeddah.
US relations with China have also been strained not only with Saudi Arabia. China and Saudi Arabia have also taken different stances to the West regarding the Ukraine war. Both have refrained from endorsing sanctions on Russia, and Riyadh has repeatedly maintained that Moscow is a key energy-producing partner that must be consulted on OPEC+ decisions, reported CNN.
Following last month’s massive oil cut, some US officials have accused Saudi Arabia of siding with Russia and aiding President Vladimir Putin with his war on Ukraine.
Saudi officials have denied either weaponizing oil or siding with Russia.