Beijing: China and Qatar have decided to build a strategic partnership and promote bilateral practical cooperation to a higher level, Chinese President Xi Jinping said after talks with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani here Monday.
"Qatar is an important country that plays a unique role in the Middle East and Gulf region, and a major partner of China in the region," Xi said.
The president said it was a milestone for the two sides to upgrade their bilateral ties to a strategic relationship during Tamim's visit.
"We need to plan our comprehensive cooperation from a strategic perspective," said the Chinese president.
According to a joint statement on establishing the partnership, the two sides pledged to increase communication between the leaders of the two countries, support each other on issues involving national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, boost cooperation in trade, investment, energy, finance, fighting terrorism, the military industry and other sectors as well as step up people-to-people exchanges.
They also agreed to make joint efforts to build the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
"President Xi Jinping's proposal on the belt and the road will provide important opportunities for cooperation between the two countries in energy, infrastructure and other sectors," said the emir, adding that he welcomes Chinese investment in large-scale projects in Qatar and his country will increase exports of natural gas to China.
In the statement, the two countries also pledged to work together with relevant parties to ensure that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is set up and goes into operation at an early date.
Last month, China, Qatar and 19 other countries signed a memorandum of understanding on establishing an intergovernmental regional development institution in Asia with Beijing as host city for its headquarters.
As Qatar prepares to take the rotating chair of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Xi urged the country to help speed up free trade agreement negotiations between China and the six-member bloc. The GCC, set up in 1981, is a regional political and economic alliance that includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Tamim arrived in China Sunday for a three-day state visit at Xi's invitation.