Xi speaks to Maldives President Solih offers to push forward BRI cooperation

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Beijing, Jul 16 (PTI) Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday spoke to Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih over phone and offered to provide more coronavirus vaccines besides pushing forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation, official media here reported.

China-Maldives ties which flourished under the previous pro-Beijing President Abdullah Yameen took a back seat after Solih, who pursued closer ties with India, reversed Yameen’s hostile policies towards New Delhi.

In his phone talks with Solih, Xi said China is ready to push forward its relations with the Maldives as next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Recalling his 2014 visit to Maldives, Xi said China is willing to continue to provide vaccines and other support for the Maldives' fight against the virus, so as to help the country prevail over the disease, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The Chinese side is ready to work with the Maldives to continuously push forward the Belt and Road cooperation, so as to bring more benefits to the people of both countries, Xi said.

The BRI was launched by President Xi when he came to power in 2013. It aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.

According to previous estimates Maldives debt to China stood at USD 3.4 billion raising concerns over its ability to pay it back especially after it was hit by COVID-19 pandemic.

Maldives also depends on the inflow of a large number of Chinese tourists.

Xi hoped that the Maldivian side would give attention to the safety and health of Chinese personnel in the Maldives.

For his part, Solih extended congratulations on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), saying that the CPC, under Xi's strong leadership, has become an important force in promoting equality, prosperity and cooperation among countries across the world, the Xinhua report said. PTI KJV RUP AKJ RUP RUP

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