The six energy-rich Arab monarchies of the Gulf are seeking to strengthen ties with China, Gulf Co-operation Council chief Abdullatif al-Zayani said Wednesday after talks with the Chinese foreign minister. Zayani held talks in Saudi Arabia with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and expressed “GCC interest in bolstering friendship and co-operation ties with China,” a GCC statement said.
Wang was quoted as saying that Beijing wants to “expand economic, trade and investment relations” with GCC countries and spoke of the “strategic co-operation and relations (it has) with the GCC”. Wang arrived in Saudi Arabia as part of a regional tour during which he also visit Israel, the Palestinian territories, Morocco and Algeria.
Saudi media said he will be discussing with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saudi al-Faisal a “strategic partnership” between Beijing and Riyadh. It did not elaborate. Gulf monarchies are wary of Washington’s reluctance to provide military support to Syrian rebels and for its openness towards their regional archfoe Iran, and are looking to improve ties with other nations.
The Sunni-ruled monarchies, like Western powers, fear that Iran may develop nuclear weapons under the cover of its disputed nuclear programme, which Iran insists is for peaceful purposes only. China, and the United States, are among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, which along with Germany, negotiated a landmark nuclear deal with Iran. The GCC – Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – has given a cautious welcome to the deal struck in November.