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Interview: Sino-Arab relations heading towards new partnership
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13:50, July 06, 2007

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A senior Chinese diplomat said on Thursday in Cairo that the Sino-Arab Cooperation Forum (SACF) was helping China and Arab nations to establish a new partnership in an era of growing globalization.

Song Aiguo, Chinese chairman of the fourth meeting of senior officials of the SACF, made his remarks during an interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of the two-day meeting ended in the day at the Arab League (AL) headquarters in Cairo.

The meeting, opened on Wednesday, focused on the evaluation of previous plans of mutual exchange and the preparation for the third SACF ministerial conference, slated for 2008 in Bahrain.

For the first time, China sent a large delegation of representatives from eight governmental ministries and agencies to attend the meeting, said Song, who was also head of West Asian and North African Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The attendance of such a large Chinese delegation testified to the deepening of Sino-Arab cooperation and the vigor of a new Sino- Arab partnership, said the veteran diplomat.

Song said a long history of deep and traditional friendship between China and Arab nations provided the basis for both Sino- Arab cooperation and the new partnership.

Besides, China and Arab countries were sharing wide consensus in many international affairs, and complementing one another in the fields of economic cooperation and trade, said Song.

Sino-Arab relations had developed steadily since the establishment of the SACF in 2004 as both China and Arab nations shared a common political will to develop bilateral ties, he said.

Against the backdrop of growing globalization, China and Arab countries need to strengthen coordination and expand cooperation for their common interests, Song said.

During the meeting, the Chinese side demonstrated its willingness to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation and relations based on the win-win approach, he said, adding that the Arab side expressed their desire to enhance cooperation with China in political, economic and trade, cultural, as well as environmental domains.

Song also said that investment would be top on the agenda of the third SACF ministerial meeting in Bahrain.

According to Song, trade between China and the Arab nations in 2006 reached 66.2 billion U.S. dollars, up by about 40 percent over 2005.

As for the SACF mechanism, Song said that there was need to enhance the construction of the mechanism with a gradual, phased and specific plan to turn the will of both sides into reality.

The Sino-Arab forum was set up in 2004 as a result of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the AL headquarters in January of 2004, during which Hu put forward four proposals to develop Sino- Arab partnership, including the establishment of such a forum.

The first SACF ministerial conference was held in the Egyptian capital in 2004 while the second ministerial meeting was held in 2006 in the Chinese capital Beijing.

Source: Xinhua

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