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China looks to strengthen ties with Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan

China looks to strengthen ties with Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, while Premier Li Keqiang is in the Russian city of Sochi for the 16th meeting of the Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Head of Government.

On Nov 30, the Premier met with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Uzbekistan Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov and Tajikistan Prime Minister Kokhir Rasulzoda separately, with discussions on trade and further development on the Belt and Road Initiative.

The 16th council meeting marks the first time for Pakistan to attend as an official member of the Council.

When meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Abbasi, Premier Li said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has gained positive outcomes in the past four years. China is willing to continue to deepen economic cooperation and seek possibility on building free-trade zone to facilitate trade between the two countries.

Prime Minister Abbasi says China and Pakistan share the same goals in deepening economic cooperation and maintaining regional peace and safety. Pakistan is willing to deepen ties with China based on the SCO framework and share great confidence in China as it holds the SCO rotating presidency.

The year of 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of China and Tajikistan diplomatic ties.

Premier Li met with Tajikistan Prime Minister Kokhir Rasulzoda on afternoon of Nov 30, and the two sides discussed further deepening cooperation between the two countries.

Premier Li said China looks forward to better connect with Tajikistan through the Belt and Road Initiative. The cooperation by investing in infrastructure and assisting in regional development can promote China-Tajikistan friendship and create a win-win situation for the two countries.

The cooperation between the two countries is all-dimensional, Tajikistan Prime Minister Rasulzoda said. Tajik welcomes future cooperation in developing and expanding the electrical network, natural gas pipelines, regional transportation and trade among agricultural products. Chinese companies in Tajikistan will be granted full support from the government.

Later in the evening, Premier Li also met with Uzbekistan Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov on bilateral ties.

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Uzbekistan. In May, President Xi Jinping met with Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. The two sides decided to strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

Premier Li called on both countries to carry out projects on inter-connectivity and production capacity and to create favorable conditions for cooperation between the two countries’ companies.

Regarding China as an important partner for Uzbekistan, Aripov said his country is ready to work with China to cooperate in various fields such as transport infrastructure and hydropower and to push forward the all-round development of bilateral ties and cooperation.

Uzbekistan highly appreciates the positive role China has played in the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and will enhance collaboration with China within the framework of the SCO, said Aripov.

Before heading to Sochi, Premier Li met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Nov 29. The two sides agreed to advance bilateral ties and strengthen all-round cooperation.