China, Egypt agree to boost cooperation under Belt and Road Initiative

China and Egypt agreed on Thursday to expand cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative during Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to the North African country.

During their talks at the Quba Palace in the morning, Xi, who first proposed the initiative in 2013, and his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, reached extensive consensus on jointly carrying out the Belt and Road Initiative.

Xi proposed that the two countries work together to build the Arab nation into a pivot of the Belt and Road, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

To that end, Xi suggested, China and Egypt should conjoin their development strategies and visions and focus on cooperation on infrastructure construction and production capacity.

Meanwhile, China is willing to participate in Egypt's key projects including the development of the Suez Canal Corridor and the construction of a new administrative capital, said Xi.

He added that Beijing is also ready to expand bilateral cooperation in trade, finance, space technology, energy, human resources development and security.

According to a five-year outline document signed on Thursday, the two sides will "double their efforts" to develop the China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone. The document is aimed to cement the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two nations.

The two sides will continue to encourage Chinese companies to invest in the zone and other places, especially those from China's competitive sectors such as textile and steel, said the document.

Xi attended an inauguration ceremony of the second phase of the zone on Thursday. He said the project will bring to Egypt over 100 companies in such sectors as textile, garment, oil equipment, motorcycle and solar energy, and create more than 10,000 jobs for Egypt.

In the energy sector, the two sides agreed to support companies to set up joint ventures and carry out projects in Egypt, the Middle East and Africa, according to the outline document.

Meanwhile, China will help train 2,000 Egyptians in the five years from 2016 to 2020.

The document said that China will, within its capacity, conduct financing cooperation with Egypt regarding Belt and Road projects.

Following their talks, the two presidents witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on jointly implementing the Belt and Road Initiative.

Also at the signing ceremony, the two sides inked a number of other cooperation agreements covering such areas as electricity, space, infrastructure, trade, energy, fiance, culture, media, technology and climate change.

The deals are worth 15 billion U.S. dollars, said Egyptian local media Ahram online, quoting Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr.

China, Xi said, attaches great importance to its ties with Egypt, and supports the Arab country's efforts to restore stability and choose a development path that fits its own conditions.

The Chinese president urged the two countries to firmly support each other's core interests, step up coordination within theUnited Nations, and maintain communication on both regional and global affairs, such as the Middle East situation and climate change.

In the meeting, Xi also invited al-Sisi to attend the Group of 20 (G20) summit in the Chinese city of Hangzhou in September.

For his part, al-Sisi said Xi's visit, which comes upon the 60th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties, will greatly boost the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

Egypt is willing to connect its own development plans with the Belt and Road Initiative and expand infrastructure cooperation with China under the framework of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, he said, while calling for more Chinese investment in his country.

The Egyptian president thanked Xi for the invitation to the G20 Hangzhou summit as a guest of honor, and expressed his country's appreciation of China always being fair and just on Middle East issues.

Describing China as a traditional partner of the Arab and African nations, he said his country will help deepen the friendship between the Arab world and China, and work more closely with China within the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

The two countries established the partnership in December 2014 when al-Sisi visited China.

Xi also visited Egypt's newly-elected parliament and addressed the Cairo-based Arab League on Thursday afternoon.

The Chinese president arrived in Cairo on Wednesday, 16 years after his last trip to the Arab country, which now looks forward to taking a ride on the train of development powered by the world's second largest economy.

Before traveling to Egypt, the Chinese leader visited Saudi Arabia, the first leg of his three-nation Middle East tour, which will also take him to Iran.

Source: Xinhua