Xi hails Middle East thaw in call with Saudi crown prince

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Chinese President Xi Jinping praised what he called an easing of tensions in the Middle East during a call with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday, state media reported.

Beijing broke off an agreement between Tehran and Riyadh on March 10 to restore diplomatic ties after a seven-year freeze.

Long bitter rivals, Iran and Saudi Arabia are engaged in a series of proxy conflicts in the region, such as the long-running conflict in Yemen.

In his first comments on the matter to be made available to the public since the agreement was reached, Xi said that “the dialogue promoted by China would play a major role in strengthening regional unity and cooperation”.

Crown Prince Mohammed expressed on Tuesday “the Kingdom’s gratitude for China’s initiative to support efforts to develop neighborly relations” between the two sides, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are now preparing to reopen embassies in each other’s capitals, with a meeting between their top two diplomats due before the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Saudi state media said on Monday.

A trilateral statement issued after the agreement said the Saudi and Iranian delegations “expressed their gratitude to the leadership and government of the People’s Republic of China for hosting and sponsoring the talks”.

The agreement was a major breakthrough for Xi, who has pushed China to take a more proactive role in world affairs during his decade in power.

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