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Mugabe welcomes Chinese President Xi in Zimbabwe
December 1, 2015, 2:19 pm

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L, front) is welcomed by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in Harare, Zimbabwe, Dec. 1, 2015 [Xinhua]

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L, front) is welcomed by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in Harare, Zimbabwe, Dec. 1, 2015 [Xinhua]

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Harare Tuesday for a state visit to Zimbabwe where he was greeted by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and welcomed with a 21-gun salute at the Harare International Airport.

This is Xi’s first visit to the African country and also the first state visit by a Chinese president to Zimbabwe since 1996.

China and Zimbabwe are expected to ink a series of cooperation deals covering such fields as infrastructure construction, investment, financing, culture and wildlife protection.

“I’m looking forward to having in-depth exchanges of views with President Mugabe on China-Zimbabwe relations as well as global and regional affairs of common concern,” Xi said in a written statement upon arrival.

Xi described Zimbabwe as an “all-weather friend” of China.

“China lauded the role Mugabe has played in safeguarding African unity and promoting development of the continent as the rotating chairman of the African Union,” said Xi in a snub to Western nations who have imposed sanctions on leaders in the country, including Mugabe himself.

The 90-year old Mugabe has clashed with the West over his policies and accused the US and Britain in a speech to the United Nations last year of trying to control his nation and its resources.

US denies Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s charges that sanctions have been responsible for his country’s economic woes.

The US and the 28-nation EU had imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002 in protest at alleged human rights abuses under Mugabe. US authorities have said they are not considering lifting the sanction on Zimbabwe till the administration spells out reforms.

Xi said the traditional friendship between the two countries was forged during the two countries’ anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism and anti-hegemony wars.

Calling China Zimbabwe’s “best friend” on the international stage and describing Xi’s visit as a significant event in the development of bilateral ties, Mugabe told Chinese agency Xinhua in a recent interview that he will confer with Xi on bilateral cooperation in various sectors.

China has become a major trading partner of Zimbabwe and its largest source of foreign investment. Bilateral trade reached $1.24 billion in 2014, marking a year-on-year increase of 12.7 per cent.

Xi reached Harare after attending a climate summit in Paris.

His ongoing three-nation trip will also take him to South Africa for a state visit and a summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.


TBP and Agencies

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