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Xi Jinping meets Nigerian President Buhari in Beijing

President Xi Jinping has met with the visiting Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari in Beijing. The two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation in various fields including infrastructure, agriculture, energy and trade.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) holds talks with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Beijing, capital of China, April 12, 2016. [Xinhua] 

This is Nigerian President Buhari's first state visit to China since taking office, and he is also the first head of state from Africa to visit China after last year's FOCAC Johannesburg Summit.

President Buhari has led a huge delegation comprising ministers of transportation, power and housing, trade, industry and investment.

President Xi Jinping held a welcoming ceremony for Buhari at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Buhari is the first African leader that President Xi has received this year in the Chinese capital.

President Xi has met with President Buhari twice previously, in Jonhannesburg and New York....and this the third meeting between the two leaders within a year. Xi Jinping said this indicates the special significance of China-Nigeria ties.

"This year marks 45 years of diplomatic ties between the two nations, and the two sides have achieved fruitful results in boosting the relationship, with lots of "Firsts" in China-Africa ties. Nigeria is the first African country to utilize Chinese technical standards to construct a modern railway, the first to import a Chinese communication satellite, the first to cooperate with China to conduct a joint marine research program, the first to put Renminbi into its foreign currency reserves. Now, China has become Nigerian's largest contractor of infrastructure construction projects, its second trading partner and its main source of investment resource. This brings substantial benefits to the people of both countries," President Xi said.

President Buhari praised China's social and economic development, and said there was great potential for further cooperation between the two sides, especially in areas such as agriculture and infrastructure.

The two leaders also witnessed the signing of six documents on economic, industrial, aviation, financial, scientific and technological cooperation.

"President Xi Jinping told President Buhari during the meeting that China wanted to help Nigeria address three bottlenecks impeding the country's development, namely, the underdeveloped infrastructure, lack of skilled talent and financial support. The two sides have a good foundation with regards to economic and trade cooperation. By the end of last year, the total volume of project contracts by Chinese companies in Nigeria reached 77.3 billion US dollars, and the bilateral trade volume reached 15 billion US dollars, accounting for one fourteenth of the total trade volume between China and Africa," Lin Songtian, director-general of African Affairs Dept., Chinese Foreign Ministry, said.

Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa, but the country is still in need of infrastructure support. China has the technical and financial capacity to help Nigeria improve this, while promoting industrialization and tackling the challenge of unemployment. Just as President Buhari said: "this is a cooperation opportunity that Nigeria cannot afford to lose.

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