Saudi Arabia and China inked a deal on energy cooperation on Monday, amid efforts by China to secure overseas oil and gas deposits for its power-hungry economy.
The agreement was signed during a visit to China by Saudi King Abdullah, the first by a Saudi ruler since the two countries formed diplomatic relations in 1990.
Abdullah met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and the two leaders observed the signing of the cooperation agreement covering oil, natural gas and minerals. No financial or other details of the pact were immediately released.
China, the world’s No. 2 oil consumer, has been aggressively seeking to strengthen relationships with major oil suppliers as it grows more heavily reliant on oil imports.
Saudi Arabia accounts for about 17 percent of China’s imported oil.
Four other agreements were also signed by representatives from the two sides, including one on economic, trade and technical cooperation, and another on avoiding dual taxation.
An agreement for an urban development loan to be given to the far western Chinese city of Aksu by the Saudi Arabian Development Bank and a pact to cooperate on vocational training were also signed.
Hu told Abdullah during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing that the visit would help “write a new chapter of friendly cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia in the new century.”
“What makes us happy is that since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1990, our two countries have had fruitful cooperation in many fields,” Abdullah said. “We hope this cooperation will develop even more in the future.”
Reporters were asked to leave the room shortly after the talks began.
Total trade between the two countries — much of it Saudi oil bought by China — grew by 59 percent in the first 11 months of 2005 to $14 billion, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.
Abdullah was also scheduled to meet with No. 2 Communist Party leader, Wu Bangguo, and Premier Wen Jiabao, on Tuesday