Arab Gulf Foreign Ministers Head to Beijing For Meetings

BEIJING (AP) -- Foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf states are visiting Beijing for meetings with officials from the world's second largest economy, a leading consumer of oil and source of foreign investment.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday gave no details of the agendas for the visits, but said they were expected to "deepen relations between the two sides."

The meetings running through Friday will include the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain, along with the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

China and the U.S. are increasingly jockeying for influence in the Middle East, where Chinese companies have found markets for goods and services ranging from highways to military drones. China's economy is heavily reliant on Middle Eastern oil and gas and Beijing has also maintained close ties with Iran amid its nuclear ambitions and disputes with other Gulf nations.

China and the Gulf nations have "provided each other with firm support on issues concerning their core interests, and have promoted practical cooperation in various fields with fruitful results," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing Monday.

Participants in the meetings were given as Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, Omani Foreign Minister Badr Albusaidi, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani and Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf.