Xi pledges to enhance cooperation with Republic of Congo, Africa

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Chinese President Xi Jinping(front) delivers a speech at the Congolese parliament in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo, March 29, 2013. Xi arrived in Brazzaville Friday for a state visit to the Republic of Congo.

Chinese President Xi Jinping(front) delivers a speech at the Congolese parliament in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo, March 29, 2013. Xi arrived in Brazzaville Friday for a state visit to the Republic of Congo. [Xinhua]

Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged Friday that China will enhance cooperation with the Republic of Congo and remain an "all-weather" friend and partner of Africa.

At a meeting with his Congolese counterpart Denis Sassou Nguesso, Xi hailed the deep traditional friendship between the two nations, saying both countries have offered firm support for each other and carried out friendly cooperation.

China is now the Republic of Congo's largest trading partner. Two-way trade jumped to 5 billion U.S. dollars in 2012 from 290 million dollars in 2002.

On the occasion of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic ties next year, Xi said he hoped the two sides will make joint efforts and deepen their friendship and mutual trust, so as to lift the bilateral comprehensive cooperative partnership of solidarity and mutual assistance to a new level.

The Chinese leader said Beijing accords great importance to Brazzaville's demand for cooperation in certain aspects, and pledged to facilitate major bilateral cooperation projects and encourage Chinese enterprises to participate in the development of special economic zones in the country.

For his part, Sassou Nguesso spoke highly of the headway made in bilateral ties, and the fruitful outcomes of their cooperation in various fields.

The Congolese president said his country appreciates China's assistance, and hopes to enhance cooperation with China in road and railway construction and other areas.

Sassou Nguesso also dismissed the so-called "Chinese neo-colonialism" in Africa, saying the African people would not be misled by such "ill-disposed" allegations as they fully understood what colonialism is through their own history.

China respects Africa, helps Africa, and does not interfere in the internal affairs of African countries, Sassou Nguesso said.

The African people support Africa-China cooperation, and hope China would play a greater role in promoting peace, stability and development in Africa, he said.

Xi encouraged African nations to continue to seek strength from unity, and reaffirmed China's commitment to developing friendly cooperation with African nations and promoting peace and development in the continent.

In a speech delivered at the Congolese parliament on Friday, Xi said China will always stay as an "all-weather" friend and partner of Africa.

"No matter how the international situation will change, China is always Africa's all-weather friend and partner," said Xi.

The Chinese president, on his last leg of a four-nation tour that also took him to Russia, Tanzania, and South Africa, said he had met with many African leaders during the trip and had extensive contacts with African people from various sectors.

"I have a very deep feeling that Africa is a continent full of vitality and hope," Xi said. "China-Africa cooperation has great potential and bright prospects."

Looking head, the development of China and Africa provides unprecedented opportunities for each other, Xi said, urging the two sides to stick to the path of mutually beneficial cooperation and common development.

China will firmly keep up solidarity and mutual assistance with African nations, firmly strive to enhance mutual trust with them, and firmly maintain close cooperation and increase coordination with them in international affairs, the Chinese president said.

He noted that an important pillar for the new type strategic partnership between China and Africa is the close ties between their peoples, calling it a "soft propellant" compared with the "hard backing" such as economic cooperation.

Only with active public participation can the China-Africa friendship maintain its vigor and can the bilateral cooperation be consolidated continuously, he said.

The development of such relationship can enjoy wider and firmer public support only when the two-way cooperation continuously benefits people from both sides, he added.

He called for building more platforms for direct contacts between the two peoples, and providing more information sources for mutual understanding.

Xi, the first Chinese head of state to visit the Republic of Congo since the two countries forged diplomatic relations in 1964, flew in Friday from Durban, South Africa, where he attended a summit of BRICS nations -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

He will wrap up his four-nation tour on Saturday, his first trip abroad after assuming China's presidency earlier this month.

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