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King Salman Ends Asia tour, Returns to Saudi Arabia

China's Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and President Xi Jinping arrive for a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and President Xi Jinping arrive for a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who was on an official tour in Asia, has left China to head back to his kingdom, the state news agency SPA reported on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia’s octogenarian monarch, who has overseen the launch of an ambitious economic reform plan since his accession two years ago, was on a month-long tour of Asia that took him to Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and China.

The King was due to visit the Maldives on Saturday, but the visit was postponed due to a local outbreak of flu, the government of the Indian Ocean archipelago said on Friday.

The visits to countries that are some of world’s biggest importers of Saudi oil aim to promote investment opportunities in the kingdom.

Asia also figures in the kingdom’s plans for military cooperation, with Malaysia and Indonesia listed as members of a Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance formed just over a year ago.

In China, King Salman oversaw the signing of deals worth as much as $65 billion on the first day of his visit there on Thursday.

China and Saudi Arabia will increase their cooperation in the oil sector, including in Saudi oil exports to China, the two countries said in a joint communique issued on Saturday.

The world’s largest oil exporter has been looking to cement ties with the world’s second-largest economy.

“Both countries are willing to raise their level of cooperation in the oil sector, including supplying Saudi oil to the continuously growing Chinese market,” the two said in a statement issued by China’s official Xinhua news agency.

“Both sides stress the importance of stability in world oil markets to the global economy … China appreciates Saudi Arabia being a safe and dependable oil supplier to the world market, and the role it plays in ensuring the stability of the global oil market,” it said.

Mohammed Al-Khunaizi, a senior member of the Shoura Council, told Arab News on Friday: “King Salman’s visit to the Southeast Asian countries is to sustain good relations with Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Japan and China as well as for the benefit of the Saudi economy that will help better execute the strategic plan Vision 2030.”

The king’s landmark tour will also be beneficial to the Gulf states and the wider Islamic world, Al-Khunaizi observed.

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