China will host Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as well as a number of other Arab leaders in Beijing this week, its foreign ministry said on Monday.

The leaders will “pay state visits to China and attend the opening ceremony of the 10th Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

Also among the delegation will be Bahrain’s King Hamad, Tunisian President Kais Saied, and the United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Vice Foreign Minister Deng Li said President Xi Jinping would attend the forum and deliver a keynote address on Thursday.

China has sought to build closer ties with Arab states in recent years, and last year brokered a detente between Tehran and its long-time foe Saudi Arabia.

During a tour of the Middle East in January, top diplomat Wang met Sisi in Cairo, saying relations had reached their “best level” in history, according to a foreign ministry readout.

The meeting with Arab leaders in Beijing comes as China seeks to position itself as a mediator in the conflict between Hamas and Israel.

Wang’s trip to Egypt saw the two countries release a joint statement on the conflict, expressing support for a “comprehensive, just, and lasting settlement.”

China has historically been sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and supportive of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Xi has also called for an “international peace conference” to resolve the fighting.

In November, Beijing hosted a meeting of foreign ministers of the Palestinian Authority, Indonesia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan for talks aimed at a “de-escalation” of the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

With AFP