Working together on energy cooperation particularly in oil, natural gas and renewable power and counter-terrorism measures is the way forward according to an action plan issued in the wake of the second ministerial meeting of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum which concluded in Beijing yesterday.
"China and the Arab countries will encourage their enterprises to increase mutual investment and set up joint ventures in the energy sector," said the document which was signed by Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Arab League Secretary-general Amre Moussa.
The first oil meeting between China and the Arab countries will be held sometime between 2006 and 2008 according to the plan.
The Arab countries are China's largest crude oil supplier. Last year 55.36 million tons of crude oil were imported from Arab countries which is 43.7 percent of the nation's total oil imports.
In a communiqué signed yesterday the two sides also agreed to step up anti-terror cooperation in bilateral, regional and multi-lateral fields.
During the two-day conference foreign ministers and representatives of the 22 Arab states discussed political and economic collaboration with China.
The meeting made it clear that "building a new partnership" is the direction of future China-Arab relations, Li said at a joint news conference with Moussa and Mohammad Hussain Al Sha'ali, current president of the Council of the Arab League.
"Looking back we can summarize the 50 years of Sino-Arab relations as mutual trust, mutual benefit and mutual assistance," Li said.
Echoing Li, Sha'ali said cooperation with China was conducive to development in Arab countries and the stability and prosperity of the whole region.
A plan on environmental cooperation and a memorandum of understanding for a meeting between Chinese and Arab entrepreneurs were also signed.
Responding to a question about the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, Moussa urged Hamas to recognize the Arab peace initiative and said the conflict should be resolved through political negotiations.
On Wednesday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmud al-Zahar told the forum that the Palestinian government would study the Arab peace initiative with a "serious and positive attitude" in an attempt to find a just solution to the conflict.
(China Daily June 2, 2006)