Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, will begin a four-day state visit to China from Thursday as the guest of Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, said Chinese Ambassador Li Chengwen on Monday.
It will be the first visit of the crown prince to China, where he will hold wide-ranging talks with high-ranking Chinese officials on a range of bilateral, regional and international issues.
“The two sides will also seize the opportunity to further boost friendship as well as deepen pragmatic cooperation in all sectors,” said Ambassador Chengwen, while referring to this high-profile visit. He also commended the existing bilateral ties, fruitful economic and trade cooperation as well as close coordination in international and regional affairs between the Kingdom and Beijing.
The crown prince will hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who also holds the positions of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission.
The Crown Prince is also likely to meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as well as Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Chang Wanquan for an intensive discussion on bilateral relations.
Chengwen said: “We in China regard this visit as very important and of high interest for us that would boost strategic relations,” and added: “I am confident that such visits will push our relations to new highs.”
He said a joint move to boost “strategic ties” will top the agenda of talks between Crown Prince Salman and senior Chinese officials.
China will also express its desire and readiness to take part in Saudi Arabia’s strategy for economic diversification and deepen cooperation in various fields, he said.
“China attaches great importance to the development of its strategic friendly relations with Saudi Arabia and always gives priority to bilateral ties with this country in the region, said the Chinese ambassador, who held talks with Prince Muqrin, second deputy premier, on Sino-Saudi relations here Monday.
The visit of Crown Prince Salman will also provide an opportunity for China to push forward free trade talks with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, keep close communication in international and regional affairs, and enhance coordination within the United Nations, the Group of Twenty (G20) and other multilateral organizations, said a report released on this occasion.
In January 2006, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah was the first ever Saudi head of state to visit China. His visit was reciprocated by Chinese President Hu Jintao on April 22 of the same year, as part of a world tour. In February 2009, Hu visited Saudi Arabia a second time to “exchange views on international and regional issues of common concern” with King Abdullah.
• (Ghazanfar Ali Khan and Abdul Hannan Tago contributed to this report)