(Adds details from report, background)
March 14 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit the kingdom in a trip that could happen as soon as May, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
The visit could help the kingdom deepen its ties with Beijing at a time of strained relations with Washington.
Since US President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, the strategic partnership between Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, and the United States has been tested by Riyadh’s human rights record, particularly in light of the war in Yemen and the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In an interview with The Atlantic published earlier this month, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said he did not care whether Biden misunderstood things about him.
Saudi Arabia is planning to replicate the warm reception it gave to former US President Donald Trump in 2017 when he visited the kingdom on his first trip abroad as president, the Journal report said.
“The crown prince and Xi are close friends and both understand that there is huge potential for stronger ties,” the report https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-invites-chinas-xi-to-visit- kingdom-amid-strained-us-relations-11647284211? mod = latest_headlines quoted a Saudi official as saying. “It is not just ‘They buy oil from us and we buy weapons from them’.”
Saudi government and China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters. (Reporting by Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Tim Ahmann)