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Li, Putin envision linking EEU with Belt, Road Initiative

By HU YONGQI (China Daily) Updated: 2017-12-01 06:17

Premier Li Keqiang said that China is ready to step up efforts to link the China-initiated Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union when meeting on Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

The alignment, Li said, can boost bilateral cooperation in traditional and emerging areas to expand cross-border trade and further develop Russia's Far East.

The premier arrived in Moscow after a three-hour flight from Budapest, Hungary, where he attended the sixth Meeting of Heads of Government of China-Central and Eastern European Countries and made an official visit.

China and Russia are making progress in new areas such as the digital economy, technological innovation and small and medium-sized enterprises while promoting cooperation in traditional areas such as energy, transportation, production capacity equipment and agriculture, Li said.

Li said President Xi Jinping met with Putin in Da Nang, Vietnam, shortly after the conclusion of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. The two countries' comprehensive strategic partnership is progressing with stability, Li said.

The premier said China would like to strengthen coordination with Russia in international affairs and maintain close exchanges under multilateral mechanisms. This includes the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which will help regional cooperation and inject constructive ideas to global peace and development.

Four other members of the Eurasian Economic Union are Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. The economic union has a population of 183 million people and a gross domestic product of more than $4 trillion.

The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Xi in 2013, aims to build infrastructure and a vast network for trade throughout Asia, Europe and Africa along the routes of the ancient Silk Road. In all, 16 CEE nations have agreed to promote the initiative with China. On Monday, Estonia, Lithuania and Slovenia became the region's last three countries to sign a memorandum of understanding with China in Budapest to participate in the initiative.

Li and Putin also met in May when the Russian president went to Beijing to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

Putin welcomed Li's trip to Russia for the 16th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government (Prime Minister) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Both countries have maintained frequent high-level exchanges, showing the stable and high-profile bilateral ties, he said.

Bilateral trade is steadily increasing and the cooperation in areas such as energy, transportation infrastructure and agriculture is being advanced, Putin said.

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