XI’AN, China (Reuters) – Central Asian heads of state in the historic Chinese city of Xi’an on Thursday came face-to-face with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to reach pledges of “lasting” friendship, paving the way for a summit. . It is expected to lead to a regional agreement with Beijing.
The bilateral talks paved the way for a mass gathering on Friday, the first in-person gathering of the six leaders, where Xi will deliver an “important” speech, according to China’s foreign ministry. An “important” political document will also be signed.
All over Xi’an, where the ancient Silk Road connected imperial China with civilizations to its west more than a millennium ago, banners, billboards and even taxi signs have been erected to promote the summit, with many in Chinese and Russian.
China is intensifying its economic and political engagement with the countries of the former Soviet Union on Chinese soil as its ally, Russia, directs what remaining resources it has into the war in Ukraine.
The first head of state to arrive in Xi’an was President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev — China’s largest trading partner in Central Asia — and his face-to-face meeting with Xi on Wednesday ended with an agreement to build “enduring friendship” and engagement. “Weal and woe”.
“We have a common goal, which is to intensify bilateral relations,” Tokayev told Xi.
“We are also united by the desire to enhance regional and international security and cooperation,” he added.
The two sides agreed to take measures to ensure the safe and stable operation of the Kazakh section of the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline, as well as deepen cooperation in the field of oil and uranium.
Setting the cooperative tone for other bilateral meetings — in which China will seek deeper cooperation with other Central Asian states in their pursuit of greater food, energy and national security — Kyrgyz President Sadir Japarov told Xi he was eager to deepen trade, economy and investment. links.
“There are no political differences or pending issues between our two countries,” Japarov said.
“We give each other support on topical and vital issues for each of our countries.”
Bilateral trade between China and Central Asia hit a record $70 billion last year, with Kazakhstan leading at $31 billion. It is followed by Kyrgyzstan with 15.5 billion dollars, Turkmenistan with 11.2 billion dollars, Uzbekistan with 9.8 billion dollars, and Tajikistan with 2 billion dollars.
Xi’s show of solidarity with Central Asia at the summit clearly coincides with a meeting of the Group of Seven leaders in Japan, where Beijing’s use of “economic coercion” in its foreign dealings is expected to be on the agenda.
(Reporting by Andrew Haley) Writing by Ryan Wu. Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan
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