While relying on the region for oil supplies, China tended to leave Middle Eastern diplomacy to the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - the United States, Britain, France and Russia.
               
But China was trying to get more involved, especially in Syria, recently hosting both its foreign minister and opposition officials.
               
In a brief statement, China's Foreign Ministry said Xi would visit Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt on his Jan. 19-23 visit. It provided no other details.

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