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China-Central Asia Summit kicks off in northwestern China

China-Central Asia Summit kicks off in northwestern China

- President Xi says China will introduce more trade facilitation measures to expand economic, trade relations with Central Asian countries

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) - The China-Central Asia Summit officially kicked off Friday in the Xi'an city of China's northwestern Shaanxi province.

The first-ever in-person summit between the leaders of China and five Central Asian republics since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Beijing and these countries, is being attended by the Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyzstan's President Sadyr Japarov, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Turkmenistan's President Serdar Berdimuhammedov.

Speaking at the inaugural session, Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed the leaders and said the world needs a stable Central Asia which must maintain its sovereignty, security, independence, and territorial integrity, according to a transcript released by the Foreign Ministry.

Xi vowed to support Central Asian countries and said no one has the right to create discord and confrontation in Central Asia, seeking political self-interest from it.

"The world needs a connected Central Asia. With its unique geographical advantages," Xi said.

To help each other, the Chinese president urged that Beijing and Central Asian countries should always give clear and strong support to each other on issues related to core interests.

Proposing several measures to expand economic and trade relations, Xi said China will introduce more trade facilitation including a "green channel" for rapid clearance of agriculture products at border ports.

"China is willing to take this summit as an opportunity to work closely with all parties to plan, build and develop China-Central Asia cooperation," he said.

Last year, the Chinese and Central Asian leaders held a video summit and announced "China-Central Asia Community of shared future" which Xi called is a "historic choice" and way forward for the bright future of the people of all countries.

"We need to deepen strategic mutual trust, always give each other clear and strong support on issues related to core interests such as sovereignty, independence, national dignity, and long-term development, and work together to build a community of solidarity and mutual trust," he added.

Xi also called the summit a new platform which has opened up new prospects for cooperation between China and Central Asia and said his country will enhance cooperation in all fields including security, health, green and low-carbon, poverty reduction, agriculture, digital innovation and connectivity.

"China proposes to establish a China-Central Asia energy development partnership, accelerate the construction of the D-line of the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline, expand the scale of oil and gas trade between the two sides, develop cooperation in the entire energy industry chain, and strengthen cooperation in new energy and peaceful uses of nuclear energy," he said.

He also offered support to help Central Asian countries strengthen their law enforcement security and defense capabilities.

"Continue to play the role of the coordination mechanism of Afghanistan's neighboring countries and jointly promote the peaceful reconstruction of Afghanistan," he concluded.

During the two-day summit, the leaders are expected to discuss the enhancement of economic cooperation, security issues, and the Ukraine crisis.

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