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Premier Li to start trip to Central Asia and East Europe

Hu Yongqi Updated: Nov 1,2016 7:47 AM     China Daily

Six members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will announce 38 “pragmatic measures” to boost cooperation in areas like transport and infrastructure, senior diplomats said on Oct 31.

The agreements are one highlight of an eight-day trip in which Premier Li Keqiang will visit Kyrgyzstan, Latvia and Russia.

The measures are expected to be signed during Premier Li’s first stop, in Kyrgyzstan, Assistant Foreign Minister Li Huilai told a news conference.

Premier Li is to attend the 15th meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization Council of Heads of Government on Nov 2 and Nov 3 in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, according to Li Huilai.

Chen Fengying, a researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said these measures will help promote collaboration within the SCO and enhance China’s economic and security cooperation in a key region for the Belt and Road Initiative.

The SCO, originally built around security issues, provides a way for China to cooperate with Russia and five Central Asian neighbors in areas like fighting terrorism, especially after the Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan was attacked in August.

The region’s nations also show a strong inclination to link their national strategies with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Li Huilai added.

The Premier is then expected to attend the 5th Meeting of Heads of Government of China and Central and Eastern European Countries in Riga, capital of Latvia. The Premier is expected to sign agreements with Latvia to link the Belt and Road Initiative with Latvia’s strategic development and boost cooperation in trade, education and people-to-people exchanges, Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Haixing said.

After that, the Premier will fly to St Petersburg to join Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev for the 21st Regular Meeting between Chinese and Russian Prime Ministers. Agreements will be signed between the two countries to expand achievements in strategic areas such as energy, high-speed railways and civil aviation development.

Central and Eastern Europe is a key linkage region for the Belt and Road Initiative and an essential part of China-EU ties, said Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies. China can promote cooperation in energy, connectivity and infrastructure with these countries, he said.

“China’s cooperation with SCO and CEE countries have produced fruitful results and both sides should take Premier Li’s visit as a new chance to help reinforce partnerships that boost global peace and economic recovery,” Ruan said.