Kingdom, China ink nuclear cooperation pact

saudi arabia nuclear agreement with chinaRIYADH: Saudi Arabia signed an agreement with China in Riyadh Sunday for cooperation in the development and use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, which will help to meet the Kingdom’s rising demand for energy and cut its growing dependence on depleting resources.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao together with a large number of high-ranking Saudi and Chinese officials.“The nuclear energy cooperation agreement seeks to establish a legal framework that strengthens scientific, technological and economic cooperation between Riyadh and Beijing, while the two sides reaffirm their desire to place the highest priority on nuclear safety and environmental protection,” said an official source. On behalf of the Kingdom, Hashim Abdullah Yamani, president of King Abdullah City of Atomic and Renewable Energy, signed the nuclear agreement.

Zhang Ping, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, signed on behalf of Beijing.Another agreement to boost cooperation in the field of academics and library affairs was signed by the Riyadh-based King Abdulaziz Public Library (KAPL) and Beijing University. The agreement will broaden the scope of cooperation between the two premier institutions and allow KAPL to open its branch in the Chinese capital.

Talks between King Abdullah and Wen as well as the two signing ceremonies were attended by a large number of Saudi and Chinese officials including Crown Prince Naif, minister of interior; Prince Salman, minister of defense; Prince Muqrin, chief of General Intelligence; Prince Saud Al-Faisal, foreign minister; Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, minister of state and president of the National Guard; Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, deputy minister of foreign affairs; and Ali Al-Naimi, minister of petroleum & mineral resources.

Asked about the details of the official meetings Sunday, Li Lianghua, a spokesman of the Chinese Embassy, said the talks with King Abdullah was preceded by Wen’s meetings with GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani and OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. He also held talks with Shoura officials. The talks with King Abdullah covered the whole gamut of bilateral issues and regional development, said another Chinese official.He said the two countries pledged to work together to promote political and commercial relations as well as boost links in energy, trade, infrastructure, culture, press and security fields.

“China has also welcomed a move to organize a high-profile symposium in Beijing in mid-2012 to discuss relations between China and the Muslim world with special reference to Beijing’s relations with Muslims in the past and the future perspectives of Islamic-Sino ties,” he added.The pledge for a closer partnership was made during the wide-ranging talks between King Abdullah and the Chinese premier. Speaking on the occasion, Wen said: “The two countries strengthened high-level exchanges and promoted mutual trust in recent years despite the fact that international and regional situations became complicated and volatile.” He said both countries have treated each other as equals with respect, and their cooperation has been fruitful since the establishment of diplomatic ties 22 years ago.

“China and Saudi Arabia are both in important stages of development, and there are broad prospects for enhancing cooperation,” said Wen. “The Chinese government encourages companies in the country to take part in Saudi infrastructure construction ventures such as railways, ports, electricity and telecommunications,” said the Chinese premier after talks with senior Saudi officials. He also called on Riyadh and Beijing “to enhance security and law enforcement cooperation, and promote people-to-people exchanges in education and sports.”

Saudi Arabia is China’s biggest source of imported oil, and securing energy security was high on Wen’s agenda in Riyadh, said the official. China and Saudi Arabia should keep deepening cooperation as China is already Saudi Arabia’s biggest customer and the Kingdom is keen to diversify its economic ties, he noted. On Saturday, the state-run Saudi oil giant Aramco and Chinese companies finalized an initial agreement signed last year to develop a 400,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery in Yanbu, on the Kingdom’s Red Sea coast.

On a regional front, GCC chief Al-Zayani expressed his keen interest to boost ties with China further during his talks with Wen in Riyadh Sunday. “Al-Zayani and Jiabao discussed during the meeting issues of regional and international importance with the GCC official lauding China’s stance on topics pertaining to the Iranian nuclear program and the GCC initiative in Yemen,” said a statement released by the GCC General Secretariat after the talks.

Al-Zayani also expressed happiness over the increase of commercial exchange between China and the GCC, which amounted to $100 billion last year.In regards to the bilateral free-trade negotiations, the GCC official affirmed that talks are on track since they were launched in 2006. Saleem S. A. Al-Alwi, GCC spokesman, said Wen spoke highly of the GCC’s achievements in safeguarding regional peace and stability since its establishment.

Saleem said the two sides expressed keen interest to work together and “to make full use of the strategic dialogue mechanism, plan bilateral cooperation from a macro perspective and highlight strategic cooperation for mutual benefit.” Wen called on both sides to build up mutual understanding, deepen political ties, and continue to understand and support each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests and major concerns.

He urged both sides to enhance coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs, maintain common interests, deepen pragmatic cooperation on energy, economy and trade. Al-Zayani said after the talks the GCC as a regional bloc attaches great importance to strategic cooperative relations with China. “GCC is ready to work with China to enrich and improve cooperation mechanisms in all areas,” said the GCC chief, adding that member states are ready to maintain communication and coordination with China on major international and regional issues.

Wen also met with OIC chief Ihsanoglu and discussed ways of developing relations between the OIC and China, said a report published by International Islamic News Agency (IINA) on Sunday. The two officials also discussed current issues and regional developments especially in the Muslim world, said the report, adding that the OIC underlined relations between China and the Muslim world, which has not faced any problems in the past, stressing on the need to develop the mutual relationship.

The talks also focused on the importance of strengthening the strategic relationship between the OIC and China, and emphasized on continuing cooperation between the two sides. The OIC and Chinese officials also welcomed the move to organize a symposium in Beijing in mid-2012 to address the relations between China and the Muslim world in the context of the past and the future perspectives. The Chinese premier said his country “accords great importance to the convening of this symposium in cooperation with the OIC and the Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

They also agreed to establish a trade exhibition at the World Trade Center in Ninshia, to be organized in cooperation between the OIC Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT) and officials in Ninshia, China. On the other hand, Wen also expressed his country’s interest in supporting development projects and infrastructure in OIC countries, including Port Sudan, Dakar Railway Project and many more projects from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. The Chinese premier will wrap up his three-day visit to Riyadh Monday morning evening and leave for the United Arab Emirates. He will then proceed to Qatar for a day’s visit. – Arabnews