February 11th, 2009 14:40 EST
Chinese President Hu Jintao Meets Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz
Hu arrived Riyadh earlier in the day at the start of his "journey of friendship and cooperation" to Saudi Arabia and four African countries.
In a written statement issued upon his arrival, Hu said he would exchange views with the king on China-Saudi Arabia ties and global and regional issues of common concern, including ways of addressing the international financial crisis.
Since China and Saudi Arabia established diplomatic ties in 1990, bilateral relations have developed steadily, with increasing exchange of visits at different levels and expanding cooperation in various sectors.
Saudi Arabia is now China`s largest trading partner in West Asia and North Africa. In 2008, two-way trade between China and Saudi Arabia amounted to 41.8 billion U.S. dollars.
During the visit, President Hu will also meet Abdul Rahman Al-Attiya, secretary general of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), to discuss cooperation between China and GCC member countries.
From Riyadh, Hu will travel on to Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Mauritius.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters last week that Hu`s visit was aimed at further strengthening China`s friendship and cooperation with these countries.
"It is believed that the visit will promote the in-depth development of China-Saudi Arabia strategic friendly relations and China-Africa new strategic partnership and further consolidate the China-Africa traditional friendship," said Jiang.