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Partnership is Focus of Sino-Arab Forum
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The Second Ministerial Meeting of China-Arab Cooperation Forum is to be held in Beijing from May 31 to June 1. Leaders from China and the Arab states will discuss key cooperation projects and map out fields for future cooperation during the summit, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and his counterparts or representative from 22 Arab countries and the Arab League (AL) will attend the meeting, Zhai Jun, director-general of the foreign ministry's Department of  West Asian and North African Affairs, said on Wednesday.

"This is the first time the forum is holding its ministerial meeting in China since it was founded in 2004," Zhai said.

He added that it would also be the first time that foreign ministers of all Arab countries are meeting outside the Middle East.

He confirmed that Foreign Minister Mahmud al-Zahar of Palestine would also attend the meeting.

Li will co-host the meeting with Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, whose country holds the current AL rotating presidency, and AL Secretary General Amr Moussa.

The meeting will focus on developing the new China-Arab partnership. Senior Chinese leaders are also scheduled to meet with the Arab delegates on the sidelines of the meeting.

Two documents are to be signed at the end of the meeting including a communiqué and working plans for the next two years, Zhai said.

Energy cooperation constitutes an important part of China-Arab cooperation, he acknowledged. China imported 52 million tons of crude oil from the Arab states last year, and trade volume with the Arab world was valued at US$51.3 billion last year, he said.

"However, China-Arab cooperation is not confined to the oil fields," he added.

China and the Arab countries have cooperated in trade, investment, culture, environment and other fields, he said. Further, a series of cooperation events were organized last year including an entrepreneurship forum, investment seminar and symposium on China-Arab civilizations. A cooperative training program on human resources was also launched.

(Xinhua News Agency May 18, 2006)

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