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Xi hails Middle East thaw in call with Saudi crown prince

Chinese President Xi Jinping has hailed the easing of tensions in the Middle East
— Beijing (AFP)

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

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

Long bitter rivals, Iran and Saudi Arabia have engaged in a series of proxy conflicts in the region, such as the protracted fighting in Yemen.

In his first comments on the matter to be made public since the deal was struck, Xi said the dialogue promoted by China would "play a major role in strengthening regional unity and cooperation".

Crown Prince Mohammed on Tuesday "expressed the Kingdom's appreciation for the Chinese initiative to support efforts to develop neighbourly 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 two top diplomats due before the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Saudi state media said Monday.

A trilateral statement issued after the deal said the Saudi and Iranian delegations "expressed their appreciation and gratitude to the leadership and government of the People's Republic of China for hosting and sponsoring the talks".

The deal represented a major breakthrough for Xi, who has pushed for China to play a more proactive role in global affairs during his decade in power.

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