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Chinese leader pledges billions of dollars for Arab 'revival'

Xi has taken a new approach to the Middle East [AFP]

Date of publication: 10 July, 2018

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The full package for the Arab world unveiled by Chinese President Xi Jinping, includes $20 billion in loans and about $106 million in financial aid.

China has pledged $20 billion to revive economic growth in the troubled Middle East region, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced on Tuesday.

The full package includes $20 billion in loans and about $106 million in financial aid as part of an "oil and gas plus" model to revive economic growth in the region, reported Reuters.

"We should treat each other frankly, not fear differences, not avoid problems, and have ample discussion on each aspect of foreign policy and development strategy," the Chinese leader said.

As part of the same pledge, China would offer aid worth 100 million yuan ($15 million) to Palestine to support economic development, in addition to 600 million yuan ($91 million) to Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

Xi said the package would fund a plan of "economic reconstruction" and "industrial revival" covering cooperation on oil and gas, nuclear and clean energy.

A consortium of banks from China and Arab nations, with a dedicated fund of $3 billion, will also be set up, he said.

The pledge was made at the opening ceremony of the 8th Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF), attended by the emir of Kuwait and dozens of senior Arab officials.

Ahead of the meeting, a statement by China's foreign ministry lauded a new era in China-Arab relations.

"New efforts will be made to promote the peace and development of the Middle East," the statement said.

"China-Arab relations will be led to new highs...[and] new prospects will be opened up for the joint construction of the Belt and Road," added the statement in reference to China's mega infrastructure project spanning Asia, Africa and Europe.

Arab nations play an important role in the Belt and Road plan.

China depends on the volatile Middle East for oil supplies but has long taken a back seat in its disputes.

But over the past years Xi has taken a new approach, with steps that include offering to host talks between the opposing parties in the Syria war.

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