Interview: Arab-China ties 'ideal', Xi's visit to Arab League 'very important event': AL chief

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016-1-19 8:15:43

The upcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Cairo-based League of Arab States is "a very important event" and China's relations with the Arab countries are "ideal," said Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Araby in an interview with Xinhua on Monday.

"China is the only major state in the world that always supports Arab rights and causes because they are rightful. China also has a great influence on the balance of international relations," the Arab top diplomat continued, praising the Asian country for strongly supporting the Palestinian cause.

Araby's remarks came a couple of days ahead of President Xi's visit to the Egyptian capital city Cairo for talks with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and with the Arab League chief as part of a regional tour including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran.

China has recently issued its first official paper on its policy with Arab states, reiterating "traditional friendship" with Arabs and vowing to enrich and deepen all-round, multi-layer, wide-ranging cooperation with the Arab world.

"I have read the paper with great admiration. I have to tell you that we circulated it among all the Arab countries. They all have read it and have seen the commitment of the Chinese side to increasing the level of cooperation and assistance to the Arab world," Araby told Xinhua.

In 2004, the Arab League and China established the China-Arab forum that has become one of the most active forums of the Arab League with other foreign blocs. "The Arab-China forum is very successful. It is the most successful I can say," he enthusiastically stressed.

The Arab senior official said that there would be discussions during Xi's visit to the League about enhancing Chinese-Arab ties in various fields including science, education, culture, health, radio, television, cinema, and others.

He revealed that both Arab and Chinese sides will sign memorandums of understanding on cooperation in the fields of atomic energy and satellite navigation, noting China is advanced in these fields where it welcomes joint cooperation with Arab partners.

"Despite its scientific, industrial and technological progress, China always considers itself one of the developing countries," said the Arab League chief who described President Xi as "a very important international figure."

Araby added that China can play "an important role" in the different issues of the restive Middle East region that is suffering chaotic conditions in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen and has recently seen a growing tension between the two regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.

"China is the only country of the five permanent members of the Security Council that really wants to play a positive role in all these crises. The Security Council issued relevant resolutions on these crises and China as a permanent member played an important role in achieving the right balance," Araby explained.

He stressed that the country can make a difference if it mediates to release the tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the former's recent execution of a Shiite cleric.

"I definitely see that any mediatory role from China will be beneficial and healthy, because China as I said has no direct interest in raising problems as other countries might have," Araby said, "China does not side with any party over another and it always seeks the common good."

As for Chinese-Arab economic cooperation, Araby hailed President Xi's Belt and Road initiative and said the revival of the ancient Silk Road would open greater horizons for further trade and economic cooperation between the two sides.

"The Silk Road in the past linked China with the Arab world; Chinese and Arab merchants interacted and learned about each other's civilizations. China today seeks to renew this link via different modern means," said the Arab League top official.

Arab partners look at China as a big power with good intention, given the Chinese efforts and contributions to the development of the Arab world, Africa and the Middle East.

President Xi has recently vowed to provide 60 billion US dollars for the development of Africa through a three-year plan that would highlight Beijing's role in the continent.

"China now invests more in projects in Africa. But anyhow, Africa has over 50 countries while the Arab League has only 22 countries. I don't see any contradiction," Araby said, adding that China assists Arabs and Africans alike via its influence, technology and knowhow.

Arab states have always been calling for Middle East free from mass destruction weapons. While Israel continues expansion of its nuclear capabilities, Iran started to restrict its nuclear program after last year's agreement with the world big powers in return for lifting anti-Iran Western sanctions.

The Arab League chief said that all what Arabs demand is the establishment of Middle East free from nuclear weapons and the international supervision of Israeli nuclear activities. "I hope that China will play a role in this issue."

Posted in: Diplomacy

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