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Malian president: Mali to cherish friendship with China as always
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16:04, February 11, 2009

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President Amadou Toumani Toure says Chinese President Hu Jintao's upcoming trip to Mali is a historical visit that will help spread friendship and boost mutual understanding.

In an interview with Xinhua prior to Hu's state visit to Mali, Toure hailed the diplomatic relations with China forged on Oct. 25,1960, saying the west African country will always cherish the friendship.

"Mali is the first African country on Hu's itinerary, which is of great significance and an important symbol of bilateral goodwill ties," the president told Xinhua.

"Mali has stood side-by-side with China, and the two countries share similar views on national liberation and state independence," he said.

He said friendship between the two countries has developed well since the two countries established diplomatic ties.

"Just with China's assistance, we built the first industrial infrastructure of our country," he said.

China has constructed numerous infrastructure projects for Mali and it is still helping the country with its development, Toure said.

"The Chinese friends built roads, bridges, factories and hospitals for us ... and many large-scale projects in Mali are now being constructed with China's assistance," he said.

"China has never turned us down when it comes to Mali's development. This is very important for us," he added.

Toure said he is looking forward to Hu's visit to Mali.

"China has already given us all that we needed ... and we want to express our gratitude and hope to strengthen our friendship with China," he said.

Thanks to a joint effort, the eight-measure policy for aid to Africa that China announced at the Beijing Summit of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in November 2006 has been smoothly carried out in Mali, he said.

"On some occasions, such as the international meetings, people are more likely to offer lip service than to take actual actions," Toure said. "However, it is not the case with China. Chinese people always keep their words and are quick in fulfilling their promises."

Concerning the current global financial crisis, Toure said that no country in the world is immune from its impact. He called on countries worldwide to join together to address the crisis.

Toure said that within the framework of China-Africa cooperation, both sides should make their utmost efforts to reduce the negative effects.

Toure praised the Beijing Olympics, saying that "it is my first time to attend the Olympic opening ceremony. I think it is the most outstanding and extraordinary game in history."

At Toure's invitation, Hu will pay a state visit to Mali on Feb. 12-13.

Source: Xinhua

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