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Syria joins Belt and Road Initiative

SYRIA has become the latest country to join China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative after the two nations formalised an agreement in Damascus on Wednesday.

The document was signed by Fadi al-Khalil, chairman of Syria’s Planning and International Co-operation Commission, and Chinese ambassador to Syria Feng Biao.

Mr Khalil said that Syria was already part of the initiative, which “helps it open broad horizons of co-operation with China and other countries. 

“Co-operation between the two nations will include the exchange of goods, technology and capital, in addition to activating the movement of people and cultural exchange,” he said.

China will help with the reconstruction of Syria, repairing widespread destruction after 11 years of civil war.

This will include significant investment in infrastructure, along with electric and alternative energy, the two governments said.

Syria’s admission to the Belt and Road Initiative “reflects an ancient and long history of friendship and co-operation” with China, Mr Khalil said.

He noted that Syria was on the ancient Silk Road and that the new agreement would help facilitate multilateral co-operation with other countries.

Mr Feng hailed co-operation between the two countries as “a great contribution to economic reconstruction and social development in Syria. 

“It also enhances harmonisation between the [Belt and Road Initiative] and the eastward strategy proposed by Syria,” he said.

The ambassador described Belt and Road, which includes about 150 countries, as “the widest international co-operation platform in the world.”

Proposed by China in 2013, the initiative aims to build a trade, investment and infrastructure network connecting Asia with other parts of the world.

Many of those along its route and other signatories have been subjected to hostile US action through proxy wars, military threats, attempted coups or sanctions.

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