China, Turkmenistan to enhance ties

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China and Turkmenistan will lift bilateral ties to a strategic partnership, according to an agreement reached between state heads of the two countires at a meeting Tuesday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Turkmenian counterpart, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, held a meeting Tuesday in Ashkhabad to discuss bilateral ties.

Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) shakes hands with his Turkmenian counterpart Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov prior to their meeting in Ashkhabad, capital of Turkmenistan, Sept. 3, 2013. [Wang Ye/Xinhua]

Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) shakes hands with his Turkmenian counterpart Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov prior to their meeting in Ashkhabad, capital of Turkmenistan, Sept. 3, 2013. [Wang Ye/Xinhua]

While speaking highly of the development of bilateral ties, the two leaders also jointly laid out the blueprint for future cooperation.

Over recent years, the two countries have enjoyed high political mutual trust and witnessed fruitful cooperation in economy, trade, energy and culture, Xi said, noting that China has become Turkmenistan's largest trading partner.

Their cooperation in natural gas, with the two countries being each other's largest partner in this field, not only plays an important role in their economic development, but sets a good example for international energy cooperation, Xi added.

Hailing China and Turkmenistan as strategic partners in the real sense, Xi said China will always be Turkmenistan's good friend, good partner and good brother.

In order to deepen bilateral cooperation, the Chinese leader raised a multi-point proposal that covers politics, security, natural gas, trade, culture and regional affairs.

The two countries, he said, should firmly support each other's efforts in safeguarding national sovereignty and security as well as territorial integrity, and in promoting social and economic development.

China supports Turkmenistan's policy of permanent neutrality, and stands ready to maintain high-level contact and expand exchanges between governments, legislatures and political parties, he added.

The two sides should also push forward the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline project and further expand energy cooperation, proposed the Chinese president.

Meanwhile, he added, they need to boost bilateral trade both in scale and quality, and promote cooperation in non-resource sectors, such as infrastructure, agriculture, telecommunications, electricity, health care, and high and new technology.

Xi also suggested that the two countries beef up exchanges and cooperation in culture, education and sports, especially those between their young students

In addition, Xi urged the two sides to enhance law enforcement and defense cooperation, strengthen communication and coordination on regional affairs, and support an "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned" reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

For his part, Berdymukhamedov said that China has proved to be a reliable partner, and that his country will regard its relationship with China as a foreign policy priority no matter how the international situation changes.

The basis of equality and mutual trust for bilateral cooperation helps Turkmenistan bring its energy advantages into full play and diversify its economy, he added.

Turkmenistan, he said, is willing to increase its gas supply to China and speed up the construction of related gas pipelines, and hopes to broaden bilateral cooperation in trade, agriculture, infrastructure and other areas.

After the talks, the two leaders signed a joint declaration on establishing a strategic partnership between the two countries, and witnessed the signing of a series of bilateral cooperation documents.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Xi said the upgrade of bilateral ties marks a new phase in the development of China-Turkmenistan relations and heralds a better future for bilateral cooperation.

The two countries, he said, should be long-term, stable and reliable strategic partners in the field of energy, and boost cooperation in non-resource sectors, so as to bring more benefits to their peoples.

Turkmenistan is the first leg of Xi's ongoing Central Asia trip, which will also take him to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. He will also attend a Group of Twenty summit in the Russian city of St. Petersburg and a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Kyrgyzstan.

(Xinhua contributed to the story)

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