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China vows to provide $20bn in loans to Mideast states

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – China says it will provide a number of Middle Eastern states with a package of $20 billion in loans and $106 million in financial assistance in an effort to revitalize economic growth in the region.

Addressing the 8th ministerial meeting of China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) in Beijing on Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the loans would fund a plan of “economic reconstruction” and “industrial revival” in the fields of oil and gas, nuclear and clean energy.

The loans would also be earmarked for “projects that will produce good employment opportunities and positive social impact in Arab states that have reconstruction needs,” he added.

The Chinese president further noted that his country would offer $15 million worth of aid to Palestine and an additional $91 million to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

Additionally, he said, a consortium of banks from China and Arab nations will be set up with a dedicated fund of $3 billion.

“Chinese and Arab peoples, though far apart in distance, are as close as family,” Xi said. “China welcomes opportunities to participate in the development of ports and the construction of railway networks in Arab states” as part of a “logistics network connecting Central Asia with East Africa and the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean.”

He also called on “relevant sides” to respect the international consensus regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and handle the issue in a just manner in order to avoid regional disruption.

In an interview with China’s Xinhua news agency on Monday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki stressed that the most important achievement of the CASCF has been a surge in the volume of trade exchange between the Arab countries and China.

Maliki further praised the Chinese support for Palestine in the political, economic, development and educational levels.

The CASCF meeting was attended by foreign ministers and representatives from Arab countries as well as Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

Ahead of the summit, he held talks with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan. Abul Gheit’s spokesman Mahmoud Afifi said the two sides had discussed ways to achieve a qualitative leap in Chinese-Arab relations.

The CASCF was established in 2004 in a bid to provide mechanisms for Chinese-Arab cooperation in all sectors.

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