China's Jinping continues MidEast charm offensive as Egypt seeks $15B package

Published January 21st, 2016 - 01:30 GMT

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed in Cairo on Thursday a number of cooperation deals aimed to foster over 60 years of ties between the two countries, Egypt's state TV reported.

The official broadcasted footage shows the two leaders witnessing the signing of 21 technical and economic deals including one to build a new administrative capital and another to develop an industrial and commercial hub around Egypt's Suez Canal.

China is also expected to lend Egypt's central bank $1 billion to help prop up its foreign reserves.

The Chinese president is due to deliver two speeches during his visits to Egypt's newly elected parliament and the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on Thursday.

Xi said Wednesday that his country "supports Egypt's efforts to maintain stability, develop the economy, improve livelihoods, and supports Egypt to play an even greater role in international and regional affairs," he was quoted as saying by the foreign ministry.

Egypt is in talks with Chinese banks to secure a $15 billion financing package, including commercial and soft loans, Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr has said.

Part of the package is expected to be invested in the infrastructure of Egypt's new planned administrative capital.

The Chinese leader has stressed that he is seeking cooperation with Egypt on China's modern trade route, known as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

"We are ready to work with the Egyptian side to carry forward our traditional friendship, learn from each other, and deepen our practical cooperation in various fields under the Belt and Road Initiative, so as to let our people share development benefits and enjoy a better life," Xi was quoted by China Daily as saying.

Xi was received Thursday with a 21-gun salute as he arrived at one of Cairo's presidential palaces for the Egyptian-Chinese summit.

Xi arrived on Wednesday in the first visit by a Chinese president to Egypt in 12 years.

The two-day visit is the second leg of a Middle East tour that he kicked off earlier in the week in Saudi Arabia. He is expected in Iran later this week.

The visit comes as the two countries mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic Chinese-Egyptian ties.

The Chinese and Egyptian presidents are due to head later on Thursday to the southern temple city of Luxor to attend a ceremony marking the beginning of the “Egypt-Chinese cultural year.”

© Copyright Al-Ahram Publishing House

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