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Saudi Arabia invites west of China to visit the kingdom in a tense US relationship

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-Saudi Arabia has invited China’s President Xi Jinping to Riyadh as the kingdom seeks to deepen its ties with Beijing in a tense relationship with Washington, people familiar with the plan said.

This trip is expected to take place after the holy Ramadan month of Islam, which begins early April this year. According to one person, it was the reception when former President Donald Trump first visited the kingdom on an overseas trip in 2017.

Saudi officials said, “I understand that the Crown Prince and the West are close friends and it is very likely that a strong bond will be formed. They buy oil from us and not just weapons. “.

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese embassy in Riyadh did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This trip takes place in the midst of geopolitical changes in the Middle East, as the United States seeks to focus more attention and resources on Asia, while China and Russia are expanding their influence in the region. Many of the regional partners are looking for new security and financial relationships.

The war in Ukraine further highlighted the ongoing changes to the traditional alliance in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia rejected the US request to pump more oil to curb soaring oil prices, and the United Arab Emirates ignored US lobbying and abstained from the United Nations Security Council. A resolution condemning Russia’s aggression.

Saudi Arabia builds deep ties with Mr. Trump, who supported the kingdom in a regional conflict with Qatar, pulls the United States away from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal opposed by Riyadh, and is supported by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the killing of opposition Saudi Arabia. did. Arabian journalist Jamal Kashogi by Saudi Arabian agents in 2018. But Mr. Trump’s decision not to respond to Iran’s drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia’s major oil sites in 2019 has rattled Gulf partners who have relied on U.S. security promises for decades. rice field. Iran denied involvement in the attack on oil facilities.

China is the world’s largest oil importer and Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner, the world’s largest oil exporter. Beijing also maintains a warm relationship with Saudi Arabia’s rival Iran. The United States and other world powers.

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Mr. Nishi’s visit contrasts with Prince Biden’s relationship with President Biden, who vowed to treat Saudi Arabia as a “Pariah” state during the 2020 campaign and then shunned de facto Saudi leaders. .. The Wall Street Journal reported last week as the United States built international support for Ukraine and worked to curb oil price hikes.

Mr. Nishi was the last to Prince Mohammed in 2019 when he visited Beijing to sign an energy and trade agreement in the first wave of Western criticism of the killing of Mr. Kashogi, who emigrated to the United States and criticized the Crown Prince. I met you.

It is Mr. Xi’s first trip to Saudi Arabia since 2016 and could be his first overseas trip since the pandemic began. With video links and foreign counterparts on the phone.

Prince Mohammed also recently stayed near his home and traveled to only a handful of countries in the Middle East over the past two years. He was expected to attend the opening of the Beijing Olympics last month, but he didn’t go in the end.

The Crown Prince has not visited the United States because the killing by a man near Mr. Khashoggi has shaken US relations.

Saudi officials have indicated that they want more support from the United States to intervene in Yemen’s civil war, support its private nuclear program as Iran advances, and impunity for Prince Mohammed of the United States. Officials said. Multiple proceedings in the United States, including the killing of Khashoggi.

Write to Stephen Kalin (stephen.kalin@wsj.com) and Summer Said (summer.said@wsj.com)

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