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Saudi Arabia, China agree to formal political dialogue

RIYADH : Saudi Arabia and China have reportedly agreed to hold regular political consultations.

The official SPA news agency reported the memorandum of understanding was signed by visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Saudi foreign ministry undersecretary Nizar Madani in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

In the evening, Li was received by King Fahd and expressed "China's desire to reinforce and develop relations" with Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter.

China's energy needs have soared as its economy has taken off and in March state oil company Sinopec signed a deal to explore for gas in the kingdom's vast Empty Quarter.

Li was later received by Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz and delivered an invitation from President Hu Jintao to visit China, SPA said..

The Chinese minister's visit, which forms part of a regional tour, is intended to "strengthen friendship between the two countries," an official at the consulate in Jeddah told AFP, without elaborating.

Yemen's official media said Li was expected in Sanaa on Thursday.

A Chinese official said in Cairo Monday that the minister would arrive in the Egyptian capital on September 13 for talks with officials and Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa.

- AFP

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