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Li Keqiang Holds Talks with Prime Minister Boyko Borissov of Bulgaria, Stressing to Carry Forward Traditional Friendship and Align Development Strategies to Promote China-Bulgaria Relations to New Stages

On the morning of July 6, 2018 local time, Premier Li Keqiang held talks with Prime Minister Boyko Borissov of Bulgaria at the Bulgarian Prime Minister's office in Sofia.

Li Keqiang expressed that China and Bulgaria enjoy profound traditional friendship which has grown strength to strength. In 2014, President Xi Jinping and the Bulgarian leader visiting China jointly announced the establishment of China-Bulgaria comprehensive friendly cooperative partnership, charting the course for the development of bilateral relations. China is ready to work with Bulgaria to take the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2019 as a new starting point, maintain high-level exchanges, consolidate political mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation, and strengthen the convergence of interests so as to push forward the development of China-Bulgaria relations to new stages.

Li Keqiang pointed out that the profound traditional friendship has laid a solid political and public opinion foundation for the constant deepening of China-Bulgaria relations and cooperation, and the complementary advantages and mutual needs of the economy have provided a broad space for practical cooperation between the two sides. It is hoped that both sides will:

---strengthen exchanges at various levels including government departments, legislative bodies, political parties, and locality, and support each other on issues related to each other's core interests and major concerns.

---accelerate the alignment of development strategies and enhance cooperation in the Belt and Road, roads and railways, infrastructure, nuclear energy and industrial parks.

---expand the scale of economy, trade and investment, and promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. The Chinese government encourages capable Chinese companies to invest and develop business in Bulgaria to help Bulgaria promote its economic development and improve life quality of its people. It is hoped that the Bulgarian side will provide preferential policies and a good business environment.

---expand and deepen agricultural cooperation. China is willing to import more special agricultural products that meet the needs of the Chinese market, strengthen cooperation with the Bulgarian side in agricultural product cultivation and processing, agricultural science and technology, and breeding of improved varieties, and well manage the 16+1 agricultural cooperation demonstration zone.

---intensify people-to-people and cultural exchanges, carry forward the friendship between China and Bulgaria, and enhance exchanges and cooperation in such areas as culture, language and tourism. China will support the establishment of Bulgarian cultural centers in China. It is hoped that the Bulgarian side will adopt more visa facilitation measures for Chinese citizens.

Li Keqiang stressed that cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) is an important part of and a beneficial supplement to relations between China and the European Union (EU). China-CEEC cooperation and China-EU relations move in parallel without conflicts. The Chinese side firmly supports the European integration, and hopes to see a united, stable and developing EU. Appreciating Bulgaria for supporting and actively participating in the "16+1 cooperation", the Chinese side is willing to continue making joint efforts with CEEC including Bulgaria to promote the "16+1 cooperation" for long-term and stable development. It is hoped that Bulgaria, as an important member state of the EU, will play an active role in promoting China-EU relations for sound development, and facilitating the benign interactions between China-EU cooperation and the "16+1 cooperation".

Boyko Borissov expressed that Bulgaria is one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. The two countries have enjoyed long-term friendly relations. The Bulgarian people admire the industrious and brave Chinese people. Both countries have developed relations in economy, trade, people-to-people and cultural engagement, education and culture on the basis of equality and mutual benefit through the "16+1 cooperation" platform. The Bulgarian side stands ready to, together with China, strengthen cooperation in such infrastructure constructions as highway, port and airport while combining with its own regional advantages and needs, as well as resorting to China's advanced technologies and experience in infrastructure construction. Boyko Borissov expects to show to the outside through this Summit of Heads of Government of CEEC and China that the "16+1 cooperation" is not a geopolitical platform, but mutually beneficial cooperation carried out completely on the basis of market principles, which is conducive to promoting EU-CEEC cooperation.

Both sides also exchanged views on international and regional issues of common concern.

Prior to the talks, Boyko Borissov held a grand welcoming ceremony for Li Keqiang at Alexander Nevsky Square. When Li Keqiang arrived, he was greeted by Boyko Borissov, and the guard of honor saluted to him. The national flags of both countries fluttered in the wind. The military band played the national anthems of both countries. Accompanied by Boyko Borissov, Li Keqiang inspected the guard of honor, and watched the march-past. Afterwards, Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Boyko Borissov laid a wreath at Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers at the square.

After their talks, Li Keqiang and Boyko Borissov jointly witnessed the signing of multiple bilateral cooperation documents covering economy and trade, science and technology, agriculture, quality inspection, and finance.

Xiao Jie, He Lifeng and others attended above activities.

On the same day, Premier Li Keqiang's wife Mme. Cheng Hong, accompanied by Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Asenova Fandakova, visited the No. 18 Middle School in Sofia. They watched the students making traditional Bulgarian handicrafts and enjoyed a talent show presented by them. Then Mme. Cheng Hong conducted warm interactions with the teachers and students. She also delivered the scholarships of the Confucius Institute for exchanging and studying in China to Mayor Yordanka Asenova Fandakova, and presented books and other education supplies to the school.

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