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Tuesday, June 21, 2016, 21:32

President Xi begins Uzbekistan visit

By Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in the ancient city of Bukhara in central-southern Uzbekistan Tuesday, starting his state visit to this Central Asian country.

Bukhara is a city-museum with a history of more than 2,500 years. Located along the route of the ancient the Silk Road, the city has long served as a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. UNESCO listed the Historic Center of Bukhara, which boasts numerous mosques, as a World Heritage Site in 1993.

Xi will later travel to the Uzbek capital Tashkent, where he will hold talks with his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, on promoting bilateral relations and jointly building the China-proposed Silk Road Economic Belt, as well as on major international and regional issues.

China and Uzbekistan established a strategic partnership in 2012, and leaders of the two countries have met on multiple occasions over recent years. In September 2013, Xi paid a state visit to Uzbekistan.

China has been Uzbekistan's second largest trading partner and biggest source of investment for three years in a row.

In cultural cooperation, Uzbekistan opened the first Confucius Institute in Central Asia in Tashkent in 2005, and a second such institute was established in 2014 in Samarkand, a historic city in southeastern Uzbekistan.

"Uzbekistan is a strategic partner of China and also an important cooperative partner in combating the 'three evil forces' (of terrorism, separatism and extremism) and jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt," Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Li Huilai told reporters ahead of Xi's visit. "The China-Uzbekistan relations are at their best in history."

President Xi begins Uzbekistan visit
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left ) and Polish President Andrzej Duda greet the arrival of the first China Railway Express train that rolled into the Polish capital from China ending a 13-day trip from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province on June 20, 2016 in Warsaw. ( JANEK SKARZYNSKI / AFP)

In Tashkent, Xi will also attend the 16th meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Heads of State on June 23 and 24, to exchange views with other leaders on all-ranging cooperation within the organization and on major international and regional issues.

Xi will chair a trilateral meeting of leaders of China, Russia and Mongolia on the sidelines of the summit, the third of its kind. He will also hold bilateral meetings with leaders of other countries.

Uzbekistan is the third and final stop of Xi's three-nation tour, which has taken him to Serbia and Poland.

Earlier Tuesday, President Xi wrapped up his state visit to Poland and left for Uzbekistan.

China and Poland lifted bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership during Xi's visit, the first by a Chinese head of state to the Central European country in 12 years.

During his stay in Warsaw, Xi held talks with his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, and met with Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and parliamentary leaders. The two sides signed agreements in a variety of areas such as finance, civil aviation and technology.

Xi and Duda on Monday attended the arrival ceremony of a CHINA RAILWAY Express freight train, which signaled increasing railway links between the two countries.

Xi also delivered a speech at the Silk Road Forum and Poland-China Regional Cooperation and Business Forum, calling on China and Poland to build their partnership into a paradigm of cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

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