NEW YORK: China has joined a growing number of countries that have welcomed Saudi Arabia’s move to lead an alliance of Islamic nations to fight terrorism.
The new counterterrorism coalition includes nations with large and established armies such as Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt.
China has expressed its willingness to cooperate with the Islamic alliance to fight terrorism and appreciated Saudi Arabia’s efforts to create this group.
The pledge of support came during talks between Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the International Syria Support Group meeting in New York.
Al-Jubeir said that the Kingdom has strong relations with China — an important economic, political and security ally.
Al-Jubeir said he and the Chinese minister discussed bilateral relations and the keenness of the two countries to strengthen and intensify their relations in various fields.
He said the Chinese foreign minister appreciated the Kingdom’s initiative to form the Islamic alliance to fight extremism and expressed China’s willingness to cooperate with it.
For his part, the Chinese foreign minister expressed his country’s desire to intensify bilateral cooperation with the Kingdom in all fields.
Ambassador Osama Osama Nugli, director of the information department, and Saad Al-Saad, deputy representative to the UN, attended the meeting.
Turkey, the only country in the alliance that is also a NATO member, has already welcomed the new coalition.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called it the “best response to those who are trying to associate terror and Islam.”
He said: “We believe that this effort by Muslim countries is a step in the right direction.”
Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri, meanwhile, slammed Hezbollah over its criticisms of the Saudi-led Islamic coalition against terrorism, saying that they misunderstand its aims.
“Saudi Arabia’s decision stems from its own convictions to preserve the interests of the Arab and Islamic nations,” Asiri said in a statement issued by his press office.
Without naming the group, he accused Hezbollah of carrying out projects “aimed at fragmenting the region, dividing Arabs and inciting sectarian sedition.”
The Saudi envoy said “Lebanon is suffering from terrorism and confronting it. Fighting terrorism could be through various means, such as forming a military force.”
He said: “Moderate religious rhetoric and the role of media … are means to confront terrorism.”
The envoy added: “That Saudi Arabia respects Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence and its freedom of decision doesn’t require any proof. What is surprising is that some of the voices that criticized the Kingdom’s decision are those that the Lebanese public constantly accuse of violating national sovereignty and confiscating the state’s decision.”
Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam earlier welcomed the Saudi coalition.