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China Joins Arabs in Promoting New Silk Road as Instrument for Middle East Peace

April 24, 2017 (EIRNS)—Two Memoranda of Understanding for the formation of a joint Arab-Chinese "Business Council of the Silk Road" were inked in Beirut, Lebanon, on Friday, between the Arab Chambers of Commerce and the China Council to Promote International Trade (CCPIT). Participants discussed ideas for raising Chinese-Arab cooperation to a "strategic partnership," and the potential for China to play a strategic role in the reconstruction of Iraq and Syria, in cooperation with Arab companies, Xinhua reported.

The Lebanese businessmen and bankers involved are eager to join the Belt and Road Initiative. Xinhua reported that Nabil Fahed, Vice Chairman of the Beirut Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, spoke of the importance of the new Business Council, and his hopes that "Lebanon will be a key center for the Silk Road." The chairman of Lebanon’s Fransabank, Adnan Kassar, spoke of the advantages of location, human resources, and relatively high-level security in the region, which Lebanon offers for the Silk Road. Arab Chambers head Nail al-Kabariti urged that cooperation between China and the Arab countries be strengthened.

China’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Wang Kejian, emphasized that the Belt and Road Initiative is carrying out giant projects in many countries along the Silk Road.

"The Chinese government fully supports Chinese companies investing in the Arab world, and encourages Arab companies to develop their businesses in China,"

he said.

The Chinese delegation, led by CCPIT head Jiang Zengwei, also held separate bilateral meetings with Lebanon’s President, Gen. Michel Aoun, and Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Economy Minister Raed Khoury, former minister and Fransabank chair Kassar, and Ambassador Wang joined Jiang at the meeting with Aoun, the Presidency media office reported. Jiang was reported to have praised Aoun’s election, saying it encourages business and "gives Chinese and Lebanese businessmen an opportunity to work together and improve ties."

Jiang, Wang, and Kassar then met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Kassar there urged that

"the government take all measures that will encourage Chinese companies to invest in Lebanon to expand cooperation in infrastructure, and to facilitate trade and investment in new energies and vital sectors such as agriculture and finance in a way that achieves common progress and development."