Friday, July 1, 2011

China rolls out red carpet for Bashir

Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) shakes hands with Sudan's leader Omar al-Bashir during the signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People on June 29, 2011 in Beijing, China

Source: Press TV

Chinese President Hu Jintao has welcomed his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir in the capital Beijing, saying the visit will bolster the traditional friendship among the two nations.

The two presidents held talks in the Great Hall of People in central Beijing on Wednesday and signed several economic cooperation pacts.

"Mr. Bashir, you are a guest who has travelled from afar, and we welcome you," Hu said in his opening remarks.

State media quoted Hu as saying that al-Bashir's visit would solidify and develop traditional China-Sudan ties and promote “practical cooperation” between the two states “in many fields."

The Sudanese president, who called Hu his "friend and brother", thanked his counterpart for the "warm welcome and treatment."

Chinese officials said that the two presidents also discussed "Sudan's ongoing north-south peace process and the Darfur issue" as South Sudan prepares to become an independent country on July 9.

Sudan is China's sixth largest source of overseas oil and, according to Sudanese media, Bashir's meeting with Hu followed a trip to the headquarters of China National Petroleum Corporation, where he concluded an agreement to boost Chinese oil investment in Sudan.

Bashir's visit comes ahead of the partition of Sudan into two states, scheduled for implementation on July 9, after two decades of civil war.

Chinese officials have confirmed that achieving a peaceful relationship between Bashir's government and the newly formed state of Southern Sudan will be the main focus of their discussions during his visit.

China needs stability in Sudan to maintain an outward flow of oil and ensure the safety of its substantial investments there. Since most of Sudan's oil resources will lie in the newly formed southern state, the upcoming secession will be of major significance for China.

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