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Latvia to join Belt and Road Initiative

By Hu Yongqi in Riga and Wang Qingyun in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-05 07:14

Latvia became on Friday the first country in the Baltic Sea area to sign a memorandum of understanding to link up with China's Belt and Road Initiative, during the visit by Premier Li Keqiang to the country.

The initiative, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21 Century Maritime Silk Road, aims to boost connectivity and trade across Asia, Africa and Europe. The initiative was proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013.

The memorandum was signed after Li's meeting with his Latvian counterpart Maris Kucinskis in the country's capital, Riga, on his first visit to the European Union country.

Li and Kucinskis also witnessed the signing of five agreements on cooperation in such areas as small and medium-sized enterprises, transportation and logistics.

"This year marks the 25th anniversary of China-Latvia diplomatic relations. I am looking forward to working with Latvia's leaders to bring bilateral ties to a new stage," Li said upon arrival in Riga.

Baltic Sea countries, including Latvia, hope to join the Belt and Road Initiative because the region is an important logistics hub, said Wang Yiwei, an expert of European studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing.

Su Xiaohui, a researcher of international strategies at the China Institute of International Studies, said Li's visit will help the Baltic country better understand China.

Premier Li is also scheduled to attend the fifth Meeting of Heads of Government of China and Central and Eastern European countries, which starts on Saturday in Riga.

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