China's President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 16, 2017. AFP / POOL / Lintao Zhang
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Saudi Arabia's King Salman oversaw the signing of deals worth as much as $65 billion on the first day of a visit to Beijing Thursday, as the world's largest oil exporter looks to cement ties with the world's second-largest economy. The deals included a memorandum of understanding between giant state oil firm Saudi Aramco and China North Industries Group Corp. (Norinco), to look into building refining and chemical plants in China.Saudi Arabia has sought to boost oil sales to China, the world's second-largest oil market, after losing market share to Russia last year, by working mostly with China's top three state oil firms.In Beijing's cavernous Great Hall of the People, President Xi Jinping told King Salman that China was a reliable and stable oil export market and the two countries should deepen cooperation.King Salman told Xi he hoped China could play an even greater role in Middle East affairs, the ministry added.Xi visited both Saudi Arabia and Iran in January last year.
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