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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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Chinese president Xi Jinping arrives in Sri Lanka

Development of the Silk Road Economic Belt

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Chinese President Xi Jinping Tuesday arrived in Sri Lanka, the first state visit by a Chinese head of state to the island nation in decades.

Sri Lanka is the third leg of Xi's ongoing four-country Asia trip, Xinhua reported.

He has already visited Tajikistan and the Maldives and is scheduled to arrive in India Wednesday.

During his stay in Sri Lanka, Xi is scheduled to hold talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and meet Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne and Parliament Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa to plan the future growth of bilateral relations.

The landmark visit is also expected to vigorously advance the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, as Sri Lanka has shown strong support for the two China-proposed initiatives.

In addition, the visit will inject fresh vigour into the China-Sri Lanka free trade agreement (FTA) talks.

A joint feasibility study completed in March 2014 concluded that signing the FTA would benefit both countries.

Xi's visit to Sri Lanka is the first of its kind since late president Li Xiannian's state visit to the South Asian island country in 1986.

Since establishing diplomatic ties 57 years ago, China and Sri Lanka have had stable bilateral relations, which were upgraded in 2013 to a strategic cooperative partnership of reciprocal assistance and ever-lasting friendship.

China has become Sri Lanka's second largest trade partner and second largest source of imports. In 2013, China became Sri Lanka's largest investor and bilateral trade reached $3.62 billion.

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