Saudi Arabia's King Salman oversees the signing of up to $65 billion worth of deals on the first day of a visit to Beijing on Thursday, as the world's largest oil exporter looks to cement ties with the world's second-largest economy. Silvia Antonioli reports.
King Salman's long tour of Asia, culminating with this handshake in Beijing. The Saudi monarch and China's President Xi Jinping oversaw the signing of deals potentially worth some $65 billion. Oil importer China is keen to befriend the world's largest crude producer. And Saudi wants to strengthen the bonds with the world's second largest economy at a time of depressed oil prices. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JASPER LAWLER, SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, LONDON CAPITAL GROUP, SAYING: "From the side of Saudi Arabia they want a stable partner to sell oil to, particularly when there is so much uncertainty around the future direction of the oil price. That stability will enable the Saudi to refocus and make their economy a little less dependent on oil in the future." The Saudi king has already visited Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, hoping to attract investment for ambitious reform plans. He's also trying to raise interest for a listing of a stake in giant state firm Saudi Aramco. But he has asked China for stronger political commitment too. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER ZHANG MING, SAYING: "The position we have always adhered to for the Palestine issue is that of fairness. During the meeting, King Salman gave his high appraisal and praise for this." Salman told Xi he hoped China could play a greater role in the Middle East, although Beijing is seen as having to tread carefully given its close relation with Iran.