Visits of foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain, along with the secretary general of the GCC will "deepen relations between the two sides," says Chinese Foreign Ministry.

China's economy is heavily reliant on Middle Eastern oil and gas and Beijing has also maintained close ties with Iran amid its nuclear ambitions and disputes with other Gulf nations.
China's economy is heavily reliant on Middle Eastern oil and gas and Beijing has also maintained close ties with Iran amid its nuclear ambitions and disputes with other Gulf nations. (AFP Archive)

Foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern states have arrived in Beijing for meetings with officials from the world's second largest economy, a leading consumer of oil and source of foreign investment.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday gave no details of the agendas for the visits, but said they were expected to "deepen relations between the two sides."

The meetings running through Friday will include the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain, along with the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian will also be in China at the end of this week, ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said in Tehran. 

It wasn't immediately clear if he would join the meetings with the others. Khatibzadeh said the foreign minister left for Oman today.

Recent unrest in oil and gas-rich Kazakhstan has raised concerns in China, which has long invested heavily in its central Asian neighbour's energy industry.

The visit follows a flurry of diplomatic activity by China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, including a tour of Africa as well as visits to the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Seeking influence in Mideast

China and the US are increasingly jockeying for influence in the Middle East, where Chinese companies have found markets for goods and services ranging from highways to military drones. 

China's economy is heavily reliant on Middle Eastern oil and gas and Beijing has also maintained close ties with Iran amid its nuclear ambitions and disputes with other Gulf nations.

China and the Gulf nations have "provided each other with firm support on issues concerning their core interests, and have promoted practical cooperation in various fields with fruitful results," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing on Monday.

Participants in the meetings were given as Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan al Saud, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Ahmed Nasser al Mohammed al Sabah, Omani Foreign Minister Badr Albusaidi, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani and Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Nayef Falah al Hajraf.

Source: AP