Xi to outline peace hopes during Middle East visit

Updated: 2016-01-19 01:09 By ZHANG YUNBI (China Daily)

Xi to outline peace hopes during Middle East visit

President Xi Jinping left Beijing Tuesday morning to visit Middle East. He will elaborate on China's policies to boost peace and development in the Middle East during his first overseas trip of the year, which starts on Tuesday.

This was disclosed at a media briefing in Beijing on Monday by Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Ming, who also said Xi will outline China's measures for pragmatic cooperation.

Observers have voiced high hopes for the president's schedule, which is aimed at reinvigorating the conflict-plagued region, including his speech on Middle East policy and possible outcomes regarding China's Belt and Road Initiative.

During his state visits to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran, Xi will also visit the headquarters of the Arab League in Cairo and deliver a speech there, Zhang said.

The trip, which covers the three major players in the region, was announced last week.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Egypt and of China-Arab ties.

A joint statement on setting up a China-Saudi Arabia comprehensive strategic partnership will be issued during Xi's visit to the kingdom, Zhang said.

Zhang also said major international and regional issues will be discussed during the visits to the three countries.

Wu Sike, a former Chinese special envoy for Middle East affairs, said doubts had been raised over Xi's visit to the region, and his trip will show that China's policies toward the area "have been tested by time and the evolving situation".

Wu said Xi's initiatives on co-building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road — proposed in 2013 — have received proactive responses from the region, including from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran.

Nourhan al-Sheikh, a professor of political sciences at Cairo University, told Xinhua News Agency, "Arab-Chinese ties are stable and far from any tensions, disagreements or contradictions in political positions."

In a signed article published on Monday in the Saudi newspaper Al Riyadh, Xi said that it is hoped that Saudi Arabia will become "an important participant, builder and beneficiary of the Belt and Road".

Li Shaoxian, a senior expert in Middle East studies at Ningxia University in Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, said that Iran has been one of the "most honest supporters" of the Belt and Road Initiative, and the country is witnessing sanctions being lifted by the international community.

"As it undertakes rebuilding, it expects international participation in its domestic economic development," Li said.

Related: China reveals Xi's Mideast schedule


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