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Thursday, January 21, 2016, 21:18

China, Egypt clinch 21 investment deals

By Agencies

 China, Egypt clinch 21 investment deals
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi(right) in Cairo, Egypt, Jan 20, 2016. (Photo/Xinhua)

CAIRO -  China signed a raft of economic deals with Egypt during a visit by President Xi Jinping on Thursday, including US$1.7 billion in loans to the banking sector, and said it supports Egypt's efforts to maintain stability and set its own course.

Xi arrived in Egypt on Wednesday, the second leg of a Middle East tour.

Meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Xi said China and Egypt had developed a deep friendship based on mutual respect.

"What path a country or people chooses cannot be separated from historical and cultural traditions or the reality of economic development and should be set and orderly advanced by the country or people themselves," Xi said, according to China's foreign ministry.

"China supports Egypt's efforts to maintain stability, develop the economy and improve livelihoods, and supports Egypt to play an even greater role in international and regional affairs."

Heralding an era of closer political and economic ties, officials from the two countries signed 21 deals at a ceremony in Cairo that could see China significantly ramp up investments in the most populous Arab country.

The deals span several infrastructure investments, from power generation to the first phase of a new Egyptian administrative capital unveiled last year.

They also include a US$1 billion financing agreement for Egypt's central bank and a US$700 million loan to state-owned National Bank of Egypt.

China's US$1 billion loan could help bolster the central bank's foreign reserves, which have more than halved since 2011 as it battles to defend the currency against downward pressure.

Xi also proposed that his country and Egypt work together to build the Arab nation into a pivot of the Belt and Road.

During talks with al-Sisi, Xi suggested that China and Egypt conjoin their development strategies and visions.

He suggested that the two countries focus on cooperation on infrastructure construction and production capacity and turn Egypt into a hub under the Belt and Road Initiative, a vision Xi put forward in 2013 with the aim of promoting common development along the ancient land and maritime Silk Roads.

For his part, al-Sisi said Egypt is willing to connect its own development plans with the Belt and Road Initiative and expand infrastructure cooperation with China under the framework of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Xi also said that China is willing to participate in Egypt's key projects like the development of the Suez Canal Corridor and the construction of a new administrative capital.

He also invited al-Sisi to attend the Group of 20 summit in the Chinese city of Hangzhou this September.

Following their talks, the two presidents witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on jointly implementing the Belt and Road Initiative.

Xi arrived in Egypt from Saudi Arabia and will head next to Iran. 

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