‘President Xi’s visit breakthrough in strengthing ties with zim’

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ZIMBABWE – Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Zimbabwe next month is a major breakthrough in strengthening of economic and political ties between Harare and Beijing, Chinese Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Zhang Ming said yesterday.

President Xi will embark on a two-day State visit to Zimbabwe on December 1 and 2, becoming the second Chinese leader to visit Zimbabwe after President Jiang Zemin in 1996.

Speaking to journalists through an interpreter after meeting President Mugabe at State House yesterday, Mr Zhang said far reaching decisions would be made during the visit. It is understood that President Xi will set the tone for the implementation of multi-million dollar projects signed between Zimbabwe and China during President Mugabe’s visit to the Asian economic giant last year.

The projects cut across all key economic enablers such as energy and infrastructural development and several Chinese delegations have visited the country to work on the implementation of the mega projects. “The leaders of our two countries will take very important measures and actions to promote the development of this bilateral relationship,” said Mr Zhang.

“There will be new breakthroughs in the cooperation between Zimbabwe and China and lets all look forward to it.”

During his hour long meeting with President Mugabe, Mr Zhang said they discussed several aspects aimed at deepening the already flourishing relationship between the two countries.

He said China paid special attention to its relationship with Zimbabwe, adding that President Mugabe was a close friend of China.

“I had a meeting with His Excellency President Mugabe and I exchanged ideas with him on how to further deepen our friendship and cooperation,” he said.

“His Excellency President Mugabe is an old friend of the Chinese people and Zimbabwe is also a close friend of China.

“China pays special attention to develop the friendship and cooperation between Zimbabwe and China and our friendship will be better and better in the future.”

Mr Zhang said the two countries enjoyed sound relations in a number of areas including politics and people to people relations.

Mr Zhang on Tuesday met Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, where he stressed the need to solidify relations between Zimbabwe and China.

President Mugabe had already indicated that Zimbabwe was looking forward to President Xi’s visit with great interest.

He told reporters in Turkey recently where he was attending the G20 Summit in his capacity as the African Union chairman that they would discuss several issues relating to economic development and areas that Zimbabwe would want assistance from China.

“We actually await the visit with very great interest and when he visits us, we shall be discussing some of the projects and programmes we would want China to assist us in undertaking,” President said.

He added: “It’s more than the visit of the Chinese head of state that is very important to us. We will discuss programmes of cooperation.”

From Zimbabwe, President Mugabe and his Chinese counterpart would travel to South Africa to attend the sixth ministerial meeting of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum.

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