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Interview: Belt and Road Initiative helps Saudi Arabia realize "Saudi Vision 2030" -- ambassador
Last Updated: 2017-03-14 15:20 | Xinhua
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The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative is expected to make "creative" contributions to helping Saudi Arabia realize its "Saudi Vision 2030" plan, Saudi Ambassador to China Turki Bin Mohamed Al-Mady has said.

"Saudi Arabia attaches great importance to China's Belt and Road Initiative," Al-Mady told Xinhua in a recent interview, referring to the initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

"Both countries have great potential, whether in infrastructure construction or in financial innovation," he added.

In a bid to diversify its heavily oil-dependent economy, Saudi Arabia announced a "Saudi Vision 2030" growth strategy last year, which includes privatizing some state-owned companies.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud will pay a state visit to China from Wednesday to Saturday after Xi paid a state visit to Saudi Arabia in January 2016, during which both nations agreed to lift their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

During the king's visit, the two sides will discuss enhancing cooperation in areas such as culture, economy, trade, technology, security and defense. They are expected to sign several agreements and memoranda on education, investment, transfer of technology, industry and trade.

"The king's visit shows that China and Saudi Arabia enjoy a close relationship and share broad common interests," the ambassador said.

"The good relations between China and Saudi Arabia are vigorous, fruitful and pragmatic, and are continuing to move forward," Al-Mady said, adding that he believes "the visit will further consolidate the fruits both countries have yielded."

In recent years, with great complementarity in their industrial structures and wide common interests in economy and trade, the two countries have furthered cooperation in such fields as energy, trade, investment and infrastructure construction.

In 2015, China became Saudi Arabia's largest trade partner and Saudi Arabia has been China's biggest crude oil supplier and largest trade partner in West Asia and Africa for years.

The two countries have seen a sound development of bilateral ties since they established diplomatic ties in 1990, the ambassador said, hailing the China-Saudi Arabia relationship as a paradigm of bilateral relations.

"Observing the development model of the China-Saudi Arabia relations in the past 26 years, we've found that bilateral ties have always enjoyed positive development and this is unique," he said. "We hope such momentum can be maintained."

"During the king's visit, the two countries will discuss counter-terrorism," Al-Mady said. "Both nations have common understanding about anti-terrorism and the elimination of the origin of terrorism. They are trustworthy and responsible partners in this area."

Besides, the ambassador highlighted the importance of cooperation in the spheres of education and culture, saying that "it should be conducted in parallel with bilateral economic and trade exchanges."

"In the past several years, Saudi Arabia successfully held dialogues between youth delegations from the two countries in Beijing, and it is trying to cooperate with National Museum of China to hold activities to attract more Chinese tourists," he said.

He said the two countries have also witnessed academic and technological cooperation between universities and exchanges between students.

"Saudi Arabia is one of the first countries that have responded positively to the (Road and Belt) initiative," he said. "In terms of strategic location, Saudi Arabia serves as the central hub connecting three continents -- Asia, Africa and Europe, and has been an important part of the initiative."

Al-Mady said he hopes Saudi Arabia can play a more central and positive role in promoting the initiative in the future, so as to strengthen the in-depth integration of the initiative and the "Saudi Vision 2030."

The ambassador also praised the "two sessions" -- the annual gatherings of China's national legislature and political advisory body -- held in Beijing this month.

"It's a natural thing for us to attach great importance to the 'two sessions' since China has become the engine of the global economy and plays a key role in international affairs. I expect the meetings will achieve fruitful results and thus benefit China and all other countries in the world."

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