Lebanon inspecting new suspected cases of cholera

Lebanon inspecting new suspected cases of cholera
Firas Abiad, Lebanon’s caretaker health minister, said there are several other suspected cases in the impoverished northern province of Akkar. (EPA)
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Updated 07 October 2022

Lebanon inspecting new suspected cases of cholera

Lebanon inspecting new suspected cases of cholera
  • News comes almost a month after an outbreak of the illness in neighboring war-torn Syria
  • A cholera infection is caused by consuming food or water infected with the Vibrio cholerae bacteria

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s health minister said on Friday that authorities are inspecting suspected cases of cholera, less than a day after the cash-strapped country confirmed its first case of the illness since 1993.
The news came almost a month after an outbreak of the illness in neighboring war-torn Syria.
Firas Abiad, Lebanon’s caretaker health minister, said in a press conference that the first case was a middle-aged Syrian refugee man living in the impoverished northern province of Akkar, and confirmed a second case in the area.
“There are several other suspected cases,” Abiad said. “Cholera is an illness that is easily transmissible.”
The developments take place as Lebanon's economy continues to spiral, plunging three-quarters of its population into poverty. Rampant power cuts, water shortages, and skyrocketing inflation have deteriorated living conditions for millions.
The Lebanese health minister added that the authorities have been working with the United Nations Children’s Fund and World Health Organization for weeks to ensure the cash-strapped country can respond to a possible outbreak, and expand testing capacities at hospitals and labs.
“We're making sure that there is safe water and a good sewage system,” Abiad said.
According to the WHO, a cholera infection is caused by consuming food or water infected with the Vibrio cholerae bacteria, and while most cases are mild to moderate, not treating the illness could lead to death.
About 1 million Syrian refugees who fled their country’s civil war reside in neighboring Lebanon. Most live in extreme poverty in tented settlements or in overcrowded apartments.
Poverty has also deepened for many Lebanese, with many families often rationing water, unable to afford private water tanks for drinking and domestic use.
The health minister said Lebanon has secured the necessary equipment and medicines to treat patients.
Richard Brennan, Regional Emergency Director of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region told The Associated Press Thursday that the organization has also been coordinating with other countries neighboring Syria to help respond to a possible outbreak.
However, he said vaccines are in short supply due to global demand.
The UN and Syria’s Health Ministry have said the source of the outbreak is likely linked to people drinking unsafe water from the Euphrates River and using contaminated water to irrigate crops, resulting in food contamination.
Syria’s health services have suffered heavily from its years-long war, while much of the country is short on supplies to sanitize water.
Syrian health officials as of Wednesday documented at least 594 cases of cholera and 39 deaths. Meanwhile, in the rebel-held northwest of the country, health authorities documented 605 suspected cases, dozens of confirmed cases, and at least one death.


NATO chief fears Ukraine war could become a wider conflict

NATO chief fears Ukraine war could become a wider conflict
Updated 10 December 2022

NATO chief fears Ukraine war could become a wider conflict

NATO chief fears Ukraine war could become a wider conflict
  • The Kremlin has repeatedly accused NATO allies of effectively becoming a party to the conflict by providing Ukraine with weapons, training its troops and feeding military intelligence to attack Russian forces

KYIV, Ukraine: The head of NATO expressed worry that the fighting in Ukraine could spin out of control and become a war between Russia and NATO, according to an interview released Friday.
“If things go wrong, they can go horribly wrong,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in remarks to Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
“It is a terrible war in Ukraine. It is also a war that can become a full-fledged war that spreads into a major war between NATO and Russia,” he said. “We are working on that every day to avoid that.”
Stoltenberg, a former prime minister of Norway, said in the interview that “there is no doubt that a full-fledged war is a possibility,” adding that it was important to avoid a conflict “that involves more countries in Europe and becomes a full-fledged war in Europe.”
The Kremlin has repeatedly accused NATO allies of effectively becoming a party to the conflict by providing Ukraine with weapons, training its troops and feeding military intelligence to attack Russian forces.
In comments that reflected soaring tensions between Russia and the West, President Vladimir Putin suggested Moscow might think about using what he described as the US concept of a preemptive strike.
“Speaking about a disarming strike, maybe it’s worth thinking about adopting the ideas developed by our US counterparts, their ideas of ensuring their security,” he said.
Long before the Ukraine war, the Kremlin expressed concern about US efforts to develop the so-called Prompt Global Strike capability that envisions hitting an adversary’s strategic targets with precision-guided conventional weapons anywhere in the world within one hour.
Putin noted that such a strike could knock out command facilities.
“We are just thinking about it, they weren’t shy to openly talk about it during the past years,” he said, claiming that Moscow’s precision-guided cruise missiles outperform similar US weapons and Russia has hypersonic weapons that the US hasn’t deployed.
Putin also said he was disappointed with former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent comments that a 2015 peace deal for eastern Ukraine negotiated by France and Germany had bought time for Ukraine to prepare for the 2022 war.
“I assumed that other participants of the process were sincere with us, but it turned out that they were cheating us,” he said. “It turned out that they wanted to pump Ukraine with weapons and prepare for hostilities.”
Putin argued that Merkel’s statement showed that Russia was right in launching what he calls the “special military operation” in Ukraine. “Perhaps we should have started it earlier,” he said.
He also said her comments further eroded Russia’s trust in the West, complicating any possible peace talks.
“Eventually we will have to negotiate an agreement,” he said. “But after such statements there is an issue of trust. Trust is close to zero. I repeatedly have said that we are ready for an agreement, but it makes us think, think about whom we are dealing with.”
In separate comments via video link to defense and security chiefs of several ex-Soviet nations, Putin again accused the West of using Ukraine as a tool against his country.
“For many years, the West shamelessly exploited and pumped out its resources, encouraged genocide and terror in the Donbas and effectively turned the country into a colony,” he said. “Now it’s cynically using the Ukrainian people as cannon fodder, as a ram against Russia by continuing to supply Ukraine with weapons and ammunition, sending mercenaries and pushing it to a suicidal track.”
Ukrainians say they are fighting for freedom against an unwanted invader and aggressor.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by phone Friday and both “agreed on the importance of preempting Russia’s insincere calls for a cease-fire,” Sunak’s office said. “The prime minister added that the Kremlin needed to withdraw its forces before any agreement could be considered.”
Heavy fighting continued Friday in eastern and southern Ukraine, mostly in regions that Russia illegally annexed in September.
Ukraine’s presidential office said five civilians have been killed and another 13 have been wounded by Russian shelling in the last 24 hours.
Donetsk regional Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said the Russians were pressing an offensive on Bakhmut with daily attacks, despite taking heavy casualties.
“You can best describe those attacks as cannon fodder,” Kyrylenko said in televised remarks. “They are mostly relying on infantry and less on armor, and they can’t advance.”
In neighboring Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, regional Gov. Serhiy Haidai said the Ukrainian military was pushing its counteroffensive toward Kreminna and Svatove.
He voiced hope Ukraine can reclaim control of Kreminna by year’s end, and then by the end of winter reclaim areas in the region that were captured by Russia since the war began.
In the south, Kherson regional Gov. Yaroslav Yanyshevych said eight civilians were wounded by Russian shelling in the last 24 hours, and in the city of Kherson that Ukraine retook last month, a children’s hospital and a morgue were damaged.
In the neighboring Zaporizhzhia region, Russian forces shelled Nikopol and Chervonohryhorivka, which are across the Dnieper River from the Russia-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Zaporizhzhia Gov. Valentyn Reznichenko said Russian shelling damaged residential buildings and power lines.
In the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine, Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said three civilians were wounded by Russian shelling, with one later dying.

 


Arab leaders welcome China’s cooperation for development at Riyadh summit

Arab leaders welcome China’s cooperation for development at Riyadh summit
Updated 10 December 2022

Arab leaders welcome China’s cooperation for development at Riyadh summit

Arab leaders welcome China’s cooperation for development at Riyadh summit
  • China will work with Arab countries to support development, food security, health, energy and the environment
  • President Xi Jinping reaffirms Chinese support for the establishment of an independent state of Palestine

RIYADH: Arab countries wish to enhance cooperation with China and look forward to a new phase of partnership, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman said at the inaugural Riyadh Arab-China Summit for Cooperation and Development on Friday.

The event was one of two conferences held back to back on the last day of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s three-day state visit to Saudi Arabia.

“The Kingdom is working on enhancing cooperation (with China) to serve international stability,” the crown prince said in the presence of Arab leaders and Xi, who referred to the summit as a historic moment in relations between the Arab countries and China.

Addressing the gathering of leaders, the crown prince, who chaired the summit on behalf of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, said: “We welcome you to the first Arab-Chinese summit aimed at raising the level of joint cooperation among the member states of the Arab League and China, in a way that serves the common interests of our countries.”

Xi said both China and Saudi Arabia must focus on economic development and strengthen cooperation based on mutual gains. (KSAMOFA)

He added: “We look with great interest at the steady growth and rapid technological progress achieved by China, which has made it one of the world’s leading economies.

“The convening of this summit establishes a new phase for advancing the relationship between our countries and strengthening partnership in areas of common interest.”

For his part, Xi expressed hope that the summit would “lead to a brighter future,” adding that China sought “comprehensive cooperation” with Arab states to serve Chinese-Arab common interests.

He described the Riyadh summit as a development in the history of Chinese-Arab relations that promises a brighter future amid cooperation between China and Arab states.

The Saudi crown prince said the Kingdom especially values the cooperation of, and partnerships with, the participants of the summit in the context of the Middle East Green Initiative.

Together with the Saudi Green Initiative, the MGI was launched by the crown prince last year as part of efforts to reduce regional carbon emissions.

“We are aware of the challenges posed by climate change and we believe in the need to find more sustainable and comprehensive solutions, while maintaining the levels of growth of the global economy, as we aim to reach carbon neutrality,” the crown prince said.

“We appreciate the role of China in putting forward a number of valuable initiatives, the most important of which is the Friends of Global Development Initiative, which matches many aspects of Saudi Arabia’s priorities toward supporting sustainable development and promoting food security.”

Appreciating China’s position in supporting the two-state solution in dealing with the Palestinian issue and the Arab Peace Initiative, the crown prince said: “Saudi Arabia affirms the need for a just and permanent solution to the Palestine issue in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, in a way that guarantees the Palestinian people’s right to establish an independent state on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

In his speech, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi highlighted the significance of Arab-Chinese ties, saying coordination with China must be increased to resolve regional and international crises.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he stands with China against the “malicious campaigns” it is facing. He also condemned what he called Israel’s attempts to alter the Arab identity of Jerusalem, and demanded that Israel be held accountable for its violations.

Moving on to Syria and Libya, the Saudi crown prince said that the Kingdom attached great importance on doubling efforts aimed at finding political solutions to the current crises, and to ensuring security, stability and prosperity in the two countries.

Reaffirming the Kingdom’s support for efforts aimed at a comprehensive political solution in Yemen, he commended Beijing’s solidarity with Saudi initiatives in Yemen.

Speaking about the long history of Chinese-Arab relations, Xi said: “The friendship continues with its roots in the depths of history, where they met and got to know each other through the old Silk Road.

Saudi crown prince said the Kingdom especially values the cooperation of, and partnerships with, the participants of the summit in the context of the Middle East Green Initiative. (AFP)

“The friendship persisted through the struggles for national liberation, and economic globalization, and continues to uphold rights and justice in a changing and volatile world.

“The spirit of Chinese-Arab friendship of solidarity, synergy, equality, mutual benefit, inclusiveness and mutual benefit were developed through it.”

Making a strong pitch for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Xi said: “The Palestinian cause concerns peace and stability in the Middle East and puts the moral conscience of humanity at stake.

“The historical injustice suffered by the Palestinian people cannot continue. We look forward to the establishment of an independent state that does not accept rejection, and the international community must consolidate faith in a two-state solution.”

Xi reaffirmed that the Chinese side steadfastly supports the establishment of an independent and fully sovereign state of Palestine on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in addition to supporting Palestine’s attainment of full membership at the UN.

He said China will continue to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinian side with the aim of supporting it to carry out livelihood projects, in addition to increasing donations to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

“China and the Arab states trust each other and have brotherly feelings,” Xi said.

“We share unwavering support for issues related to the vital interests of the other side. We unite and progress together on the cause of achieving renaissance and solidarity in the spirit of one team against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

He said that during the last 10 years the volume of trade exchange had exceeded $300 billion; the balance of mutual direct investment amounted to $27 billion.

More than 200 projects had been implemented within the framework of cooperation in building the Belt and Road Initiative, which has eventually benefited nearly 2 billion people.

He added: “The Chinese side is keen to deepen mutual strategic confidence with the Arab side and exchange firm support for the efforts of the other side to preserve the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and national dignity.

“The two sides adhere jointly to the principle of non-interference in internal affairs, the application of true multilateralism, and the defense of right and the legitimate interests of developing countries.”

Xi said both China and Saudi Arabia must focus on economic development and strengthen cooperation based on mutual gains. He pointed out that the Chinese side supports the Arab side in finding political solutions to thorny issues and in building a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security system in the Middle East.

He highlighted China’s keenness to work with the Arab side to implement joint actions over the next three to five years, covering eight areas: development, food security, health, green development and innovation, energy security, dialogue among civilizations, youth rehabilitation, and security and stability.

He added that Islamophobia and extremism must be confronted.


Wizz Air launches Rome to Riyadh route

Wizz Air launches Rome to Riyadh route
Updated 10 December 2022

Wizz Air launches Rome to Riyadh route

Wizz Air launches Rome to Riyadh route
  • Scheduled flights will run twice a week from Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino hub

ROME: WIZZ Air launched this week its first direct flight from Rome to Riyadh.

Scheduled flights will run twice a week from Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino hub and wil increase the Italian touristic presence in Saudi Arabia, according to a company statement.

The European low cost airline had already opened a regular route from Rome to Dammam and from Milan Malpensa to Jeddah, as part of twenty-three new routes to Saudi Arabia announced in recent months by WIZZ Air,

It confirmed the company's commitment in supporting the country's growing tourism sector, in line with the Vision 2030 program, the company said.

At a launch event in Rome Fiumicino airport Fahd Hamidaddin, Chief Executive Officer and Board Member of Administration of the Saudi Tourism Authority, said that the increase of flights between KSA and Italy was “helping us to create a new exciting destination for the Italian travellers.”

He continued: “We are very pleased and excited as this will allow to more and more Italians to come to Saud Arabia to explore our wonderful country and experience the authentic Arabian hospitality.”

Evelin Jeckel, Network Officer of WIZZ Air said that the new route “will directly link two capitals, all over the world most known for their immense historical and cultural heritage.” 

She thanked the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Saudi Tourism Authority, Riyadh International Airport and the Government of Saudi Arabia for their “continued support.”


Saudi Arabia, China emerge as comprehensive strategic partners as Chinese President Xi Jinping wraps up state visit

Saudi Arabia, China emerge as comprehensive strategic partners as Chinese President Xi Jinping wraps up state visit
Updated 10 December 2022

Saudi Arabia, China emerge as comprehensive strategic partners as Chinese President Xi Jinping wraps up state visit

Saudi Arabia, China emerge as comprehensive strategic partners as Chinese President Xi Jinping wraps up state visit
  • Agreement reached on harmonizing Vision 2030 with Belt and Road Initiative and boosting non-oil trade
  • Deepening ties with China does not mean the Kingdom is turning its back on the US, says Saudi foreign minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and China agreed to strengthen their strategic relations and expand commercial ties during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s three-day state visit to the Kingdom.

Xi and his delegation held talks with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the heads of key ministries, resulting in 35 memorandums of understanding and deals worth $30 billion.

The two sides signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement, committing to support each other’s core interests, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to defend the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states.

Addressing the media at the conclusion of Xi’s visit on Friday, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi minister of foreign affairs, said the deepening of relations with China did not mean the Kingdom was turning its back on the US and other Western allies.

China is Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner. (SPA)

He said: “Saudi Arabia’s main focus is how to grow economically, and through the work with strategic partners we will continue to find ways to enhance bilateral cooperation with all.

“The Kingdom is a member of the G20 and is aiming to become one of the top 15 economies globally. We have to be open to cooperation with everyone.

“There is no doubt that working together with the second largest economy in the world is vital to Saudi Arabia’s growth, but that does not mean that we cannot continue to work with the world’s largest economy.

“We strive to work with all large economies and others around the world. By working with various partners, it will ensure the transition of the Kingdom to another level of growth that cannot happen by declining opportunities from one country to another.

“We have to be open to cooperating with others and that has been the Kingdom’s philosophy to achieve mutual interests.”

The Saudi side reaffirmed its adherence to the one-China principle during the summit, while the Chinese side expressed support for the Kingdom in maintaining its security and stability, and rejected any attacks targeting civilians, civilian infrastructure, territories, and Saudi interests.

“We look to enhance our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with China and find means to develop it beyond trade,” said Prince Faisal. “The partnership supports the Kingdom’s development and serves its interests.”

Regarding regional and international issues, the two sides welcomed the first China-GCC Summit and the first Arab-Chinese Summit, both of which were also held in Riyadh on Friday.

The two sides stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation through the high-level Saudi-Chinese Joint Committee to achieve common goals, enhance cooperation, and intensify communication between government and private sectors.

Both sides stressed the importance of stability in the global oil markets and agreed to explore common investment opportunities in petrochemicals, and to enhance cooperation in solar, wind, and other sources of renewable energy.

They also agreed to cooperate on hydrocarbons, energy efficiency, localization of energy sector components and supply chains, in addition to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the development of technologies like artificial intelligence.

In particular, the delegations stressed the importance of deepening cooperation with regard to the Belt and Road Initiative, including involvement in energy and investment partnerships and making use of the Kingdom’s location as a regional center.

The two sides welcomed the signing of the “harmonization plan” between the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 social reform and economic diversification agenda and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Xi announced the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative — formerly known as One Belt One Road — in 2013.

The initiative sets out to connect the markets and manufacturers of East Asia to those of Europe via a vast logistical and digital network running through Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa in a modern-day reimagining of the ancient Silk Road.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative shares the same goal of boosting interconnectivity through cooperation in energy, trade, investment and technology as Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 agenda, launched in 2016 by the Saudi crown prince.

FASTFACTS

Saudi and Chinese officials signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement, committing to support each other’s core interests.

• Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi minister of foreign affairs, said deepening ties with China did not mean the Kingdom is turning its back on the US.

• Chinese President Xi Jinping and his delegation took part in summits on Friday with GCC representatives and Arab heads of state.

China is Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner. According to Reuters news agency, bilateral trade between the two countries hit $87.3 billion in 2021, with Chinese exports to the Kingdom reaching $30.3 billion and China’s imports from Saudi Arabia totaling $57 billion.

China’s main exports to Saudi Arabia are textiles, electronics and machinery, while China mainly imports crude oil and primary plastics from the Kingdom. In the first 10 months of 2022, China’s Saudi oil imports reached 1.77 million barrels per day, valued at $55.5 billion, according to Chinese customs data.

The delegations agreed to boost the volume of non-oil trade, increase joint investments, expand capacity for commercial airlines, motivate private sector investment, and create an attractive investment environment.

The two sides stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation through the high-level Saudi-Chinese Joint Committee to achieve common goals. (SPA)

In particular they agreed to deepen cooperation in the automotive industry, supply chains, logistics, water desalination, infrastructure, manufacturing, mining, and the financial sector.

The Saudi side said it hopes to attract Chinese expertise to participate in the Kingdom’s forthcoming mega-projects, and for Chinese companies to open regional headquarters in Saudi Arabia.

The two sides also welcomed agreements concerning hydrogen energy, the judiciary, Chinese language education, housing, direct investment, radio and television, the digital economy, economic development, standardization, the news media, tax administration, and anti-corruption.

The Chinese delegation also expressed its keenness to deepen investment cooperation in the digital economy and green development, enhance cooperation in e-commerce, and explore means of joint economic and trade cooperation with Africa.

Regarding the shared challenge of climate change, the Chinese delegation welcomed the Kingdom’s Saudi Green Initiative and Middle East Green Initiative and expressed its support for Saudi Arabia’s application of the circular carbon economy.

They also agreed to urge developed countries to take their historic responsibilities seriously, through the fulfillment of their obligations by greatly reducing emissions before the target date, and to tangibly help developing countries through financial, technical, and capacity-building support.

The two sides stressed the need to strengthen partnership in communications, digital economy, innovation, and space, to achieve better digital infrastructure for the future generations in both countries.

They also stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation and joint action on developing the air and sea transport sectors, modern transport modes and railways, and expediting the completion of studies on the Saudi land bridge project.

Both delegations affirmed their determination to develop cooperation in defense to combat organized crime, terrorism, and cybercrimes.

They also stressed the importance of strengthening health cooperation to combat current and future health threats and pandemics, and agreed to develop cooperation in the areas of heritage, culture, sport, tourism, and science.


China and GCC ‘natural partners for cooperation,’ Chinese President Xi Jinping tells Riyadh summit

China and GCC ‘natural partners for cooperation,’ Chinese President Xi Jinping tells Riyadh summit
Updated 10 December 2022

China and GCC ‘natural partners for cooperation,’ Chinese President Xi Jinping tells Riyadh summit

China and GCC ‘natural partners for cooperation,’ Chinese President Xi Jinping tells Riyadh summit
  • To be partners, China and GCC states must harmonize development strategies, Xi tells summit in Riyadh
  • He assures that China will continue to support the GCC bloc by building a collective security system

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia hosted the first Riyadh Gulf Cooperation Council-China Summit for Cooperation and Development on Friday.

The event was jointly chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who ws in the Kingdom on a three-day state visit, and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman.

In his opening address, the crown prince said the meeting reflected a mutual desire to enhance Chinese-Gulf cooperation and would establish a historic new phase in relations.

Among the GCC leaders in attendance were King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain; Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sharqi, the ruler of Fujairah and representative of UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan; and Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said, Oman’s deputy prime minister.

Xi said his country will work with the GCC over the next three to five years across five priority areas. (SPA)

The delegation also included Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar; Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the crown prince of Kuwait; and Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf, the GCC secretary-general.

Xi said China and the GCC were natural partners due to their shared values and interests.

He added: “For more than 40 years the two sides have written impressive chapters of solidarity, support, and joint cooperation.

“China enjoys a wide consumer market and an integrated industrial system, while the Gulf side is characterized by rich energy resources and prosperous development to diversify the economy.

“The two sides are natural partners for cooperation and understanding as both sides, the Chinese and Gulf, belong to an Eastern civilization with similar cultural values and peoples who understand and converse with each other and share in good times and bad.”

One of the first areas of cooperation to be discussed was the approval of the joint 2023-27 action plan to strengthen the existing strategic partnership between the Gulf countries and China in economic, political, and cultural fields.

The volume of trade between the GCC states and China reached $228.9 billion in 2021 — a big leap from the $148.2 billion recorded in the previous year.

Leaders stressed the importance of continuing to develop cooperation in the fields of energy, trade, investment, finance, industry, advanced technology and space, along with the need to complete free trade negotiations as soon as possible.

The need for greater links in the fields of culture, education, tourism, media, and sport was also discussed.

Xi added: “In order to be partners in the pursuit of development, we must strengthen the harmonization between our strategies, activate the advantages of integration and generate an impetus for development.”

Xi said his country will work with the GCC over the next three to five years across five priority areas, including energy, investment, the digital economy, space, and cooperation in culture and language, with plans to teach the Chinese language in 300 schools and universities.

He said he wants to work with the Gulf to import natural gas and enhance cooperation in the fields of upstream recycling, engineering services, storage and refining of oil and gas, and to make full use of the Shanghai Petroleum and Natural Gas Exchange as a platform for oil.

Xi said: “China will also enhance cooperation in the field of clean and carbon-reduced energy technologies, such as hydrogen energy, energy storage, and smart electrical networks, and enhance cooperation in consolidating the production of equipment related to new energy.”

He expressed his desire to establish a Chinese-Gulf forum for the sound uses of nuclear energy, and a center of excellence for nuclear security to train 300 qualified specialists in the peaceful uses of the power source for the GCC countries.

The event was jointly chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who ws in the Kingdom on a three-day state visit, and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)

Xi highlighted the potential for cooperation in space technology, giving Arab and Chinese students and specialists the chance to work together.

“Chinese foreign relations are distinguished by a long history and a promising future,” he said.

Other topics covered during the summit were security and stability, and the priority of restoring international peace through mutual respect and cooperation.

Xi said: “To be partners to improve security, China will continue its unwavering support for the GCC countries in maintaining their security, and support the countries of the region to resolve differences through dialogue, consultation and building a collective security system in the Gulf.

“China welcomes the GCC countries to participate in the global security initiative in order to maintain peace and stability in the region with joint efforts, and to be partners for the advancement of civilization.

“Then we must strengthen the rapprochement among our peoples, diversify human and cultural communication, benefit from the distinguished cultural fruits on both sides, and strengthen the jewel of Eastern civilization, which provides a positive contribution to the development and progress of human civilization.”

Bahrain’s King Hamad expressed his gratitude to King Salman for his invitation to participate in the summit.

He said it reflected “the keenness of the GCC countries, brotherly Arab countries, and the friendly People’s Republic of China to intensify cooperation and joint coordination in various fields, for the benefit and good of our countries and the whole world.”

Al-Hajraf said President Xi’s visit to Saudi Arabia represented an important opportunity to address issues of common interest, build on countries’ relations, and enhance cooperation in energy, investment, the economy, and development.