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China, Gulf states to bolster strategic partnership

By Wang Qingyun | China Daily | Updated: 2022-01-13 06:56

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajraf in Wuxi, East China's Jiangsu province, Jan 11, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

China and the Gulf Cooperation Council have agreed to set up a strategic partnership as soon as possible to enhance pragmatic cooperation, tackle challenges and serve their common interests.

According to a joint statement issued on Wednesday, the two sides agreed to sign an action plan for 2022 to 2025, finish negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement and set up a China-GCC free trade zone as soon as possible.

They also agreed to hold a fourth strategic dialogue in Riyadh at an appropriate time.

The statement was issued after State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajraf, secretary-general of the GCC, in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, on Tuesday, and reached consensus on a series of issues.

Both Wang and Nayef agreed that China and the GCC should strengthen coordination on international and regional affairs, and work together to tackle global challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change.

Welcoming Nayef on his first visit to China, Wang said the council is the most vigorous regional organization in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, and has played a positive role in the international community and the region.

China and the GCC have strengthened mutual political trust and deepened pragmatic cooperation to become development partners with the same ideas and intertwined interests, he said.

Wang said China praises the council for understanding and supporting the nation over issues related to its core interests and major concerns. Also, China firmly supports GCC states in their efforts to safeguard independence, security and stability, he added.

China will continue to oppose any country interfering in GCC states' domestic affairs in the name of "human rights" and object to associating terrorism with certain religions or ethnic groups, the foreign minister said, adding that both sides should cooperate to contribute to regional and world peace.

Nayef said that China is an important strategic partner and the largest trade partner of the GCC, and that the council appreciates China for its important and positive role in international and regional affairs.

Besides Nayef, China is also hosting the foreign ministers of four GCC member states, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain, from Monday through Friday.

In Wang's talks with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah in Wuxi on Wednesday, China and Kuwait agreed to better align the Belt and Road Initiative with Kuwait's Vision 2035 project. They also agreed to strengthen cooperation in fields including agriculture, food security, new energy and 5G technology.

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