|Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) meets with Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in Paris, France, March 27, 2014. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)|
PARIS, March 27 -- Chinese President Xi Jinping said here Thursday that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) plays an "irreplaceable" role in promoting international understanding and cooperation.
Xi, who is paying a state visit to France, made the remarks in a meeting with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova at the headquarters of the world body.
The international situation is currently undergoing profound and complex changes, and mankind is facing increasing common challenges, noted the president.
Under such circumstances it is necessary to enhance understanding and strengthen cooperation among countries and peoples, Xi said, adding that the role of UNESCO in this undertaking is "irreplaceable."
"China appreciates UNESCO's advocacy of cultural diversity and focus on universal education, especially its priority on gender equality and Africa," said the president.
Speaking highly of the long-standing cooperation between China and UNESCO, Xi said China is ready to increase support for the UN body, especially in helping African countries and the least developed countries promote sustainable development and cultural preservation.
Beijing, he added, has decided to expand the annual enrollment of the Great Wall Fellowship -- a program in which China provides scholarships for African and other developing countries through UNESCO -- from 25 to 75 so as to support the capacity-building of African teachers.
Bokova, for her part, expressed gratitude for the long-running support from China, adding that she believes Xi's visit will inject fresh vigor into the cooperation between China and UNESCO and make bilateral collaboration more fruitful.
Founded in 1946, UNESCO is the largest UN agency specializing in educational, scientific and cultural fields. The organization aims to promote cooperation among countries in those fields and contribute to world peace and security.
France is the second leg of Xi's ongoing Europe trip, which will also take him to Germany and Belgium. Before France, Xi visited the Netherlands and attended the third Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.