Chines President Xi Jinping to visit KSA today

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Chines President Xi Jinping prepared to leave on an unusual visit this week to Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt.

Tensions between the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran have escalated since Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr on Jan. 2.

In response, Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad, prompting Riyadh to sever relations.

Tehran then cut all commercial ties with Riyadh, and banned pilgrims from traveling to Mecca.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming told reporters China was not taking sides.

“Regarding some of the region s problems, China has always taken a balanced and just position,” Zhang said, when asked about tensions between Riyadh and Tehran.

A Chinese president has not visited Saudi Arabia since 2009 when Hu Jintao went, and Jiang Zemin was the last Chinese president to visit Iran, going in 2002.