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China pushes Silk Road plan, AIIB during neighbourhood summit

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Beijing, Nov 8 (PTI) China today held dialogues with leaders of neighbouring countries including Pakistan and Bangladesh to firm up support for its mega 21st Century Silk Road Economic Belt and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The summit was hosted by President Xi Jinping in which leaders of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Tajikistan, and representatives of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) took part.

Xi Jinping called on the neighbouring countries to strengthen connectivity and boost cooperation. He highlighted China’s plans to build the 21st Century Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road to boost connectivity besides Beijing’s push for creation of the AIIB.

The summit was organised ahead of the November 10 meeting of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders in which a host of world leaders including US President Barrack Obama, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are scheduled to take part. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid attended today’s meeting.

Xi Jinping had invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the summit during their first meeting in Brazil. Indian officials said Modi could not make it to the summit due to his commitments to attend next week’s East Asia summit in Myanmar followed by G-20 leaders meeting in Australia.

He is expected to meet Chinese leaders on the sidelines of these meetings. On the sidelines of today’s summit,Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang met leaders of several countries. China and Pakistan signed USD 46 billion worth of Chinese investments in various projects in Pakistan.

In his talks with Hamid,Xi Jinping welcomed Bangladesh’s participation in the AIIB as a founding member. India along with 21 members joined the bank being floated by China to focus on infrastructure development in the region.

Xi Jinping also said China’s vision to build the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will create opportunities for the countries in the region to expand trade and economic connectivity.

He asked Bangladesh to push the building of an economic corridor linking Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar. Describing Bangladesh as an important partner of China in South Asia and Indian Ocean region, Xi said the bilateral relationship features friendship, trust and cooperation.

Hamid said Bangladesh expects to learn from China’s experience in poverty alleviation and seize the chance brought by the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

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