How China’s brokering of deal between Iran, Saudi Arabia surprised US diplomats
Fox News chief national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin has the latest on relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia on "America Reports."
Saudi Arabia’s cabinet on Wednesday approved a decision to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a China-led security bloc, in a sign of its deepening ties with Beijing.
Per the state-owned Saudi Press Agency, the Saudi cabinet approved a memorandum granting the kingdom “dialogue partner status,” a first step before being awarded full membership in the SCO.
Participants of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit meet in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Sept. 16, 2022. (Sputnik / Sergey Bobylev / Pool via Reuters)
Formed in 2001 by Russia, China and former Soviet states in central Asia, the SCO is a political and security union that aims to counter Western influence.
The body has since been expanded to include India and Pakistan. Iran also signed documents last year for full membership.
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Sources told Reuters the possibility of Saudi Arabia joining SCO was discussed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia in December.
Iran’s top security official, Ali Shamkhani, right, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, center, and Musaid Al Aiban, Saudi Arabia’s national security adviser, shake hands after Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to resume bilateral diplomatic ties in Beijing on March 10, 2023. (Chinese Foreign Ministry / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Saudi Arabia’s move comes as the kingdom and other Persian Gulf states have grown wary about losing the U.S. as its historical security guarantor and have looked to diversify partners.
Beijing’s growing influence in the region was evident earlier this month when it brokered a deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume diplomatic ties after more than seven years of hostilities.
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China has claimed it had no ulterior motives in brokering the peace talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran. A spokesperson from the kingdom’s foreign ministry said after the deal that China “pursues no selfish interest whatsoever in the Middle East.”
Bradford Betz is a Fox News Digital breaking reporter covering crime, political issues, and much more.