Saudi Arabia And China Signed Nuclear Cooperation Deal

The world's biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement with China for cooperation in the development and use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, which will help to meet the Kingdom's increasing demand for energy and cut its growing dependence on depleting oil resources.

The deal was signed in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Sunday in the presence of King Abdullah and visiting Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

The agreement seeks to establish a legal framework to strengthen scientific, technological and economic cooperation between Riyadh and Beijing,
while the two sides reaffirmed their desire to place the highest priority on nuclear safety and environmental protection, the Arab News reported quoting officials.

Another agreement to expand cooperation in the field of academics and library affairs was signed by the Riyadh-based King Abdulaziz Public Library (KAPL) and Beijing University
. The pact will broaden the scope of cooperation between the two premier institutions and allow KAPL to open its branch in the Chinese capital.

Asked about details of the talks Wen had with King Abdullah, Chinese Embassy spokesman Li Lianghua said the talks with the monarch was preceded by Wen's meetings with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Abdullatif al-Zayani and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. 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 had treated each other as equals with respect, and their cooperation had 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," Wen said and added that his government encouraged Chinese companies to take part in Saudi infrastructure construction ventures such as railways, ports, electricity and telecommunications.

Saudi Arabia is China's biggest source of imported oil, and securing energy security was high on Wen's agenda in Riyadh, said the Embassy 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.


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