BEIJING: China will hold its third Belt and Road forum in its capital next week, Beijing said Wednesday (Oct 11), confirming the details of an event that several foreign leaders are expected to attend — including Vladimir Putin.
Representatives from over 130 countries are set to take part in the event celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Beijing’s vast infrastructure initiative.
“Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony of the forum and deliver a keynote speech,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
He will also “hold a welcome banquet for foreign leaders and heads of international organisations attending the forum”, she added.
Russian President Putin has said he will attend the event, in what will be his first visit to China since his war in Ukraine threw him into international isolation.
China and Russia describe each other as strategic allies, frequently touting their “no limits” partnership and economic and military cooperation.
They came even closer following the invasion of Ukraine, with the Kremlin seeking to deepen ties with Beijing after finding itself increasingly ostracised by the West.
China has refused to condemn the war, and has tried to position itself as a neutral party, while at the same time offering Moscow a vital diplomatic and financial lifeline.
Moscow’s foreign ministry said Tuesday that top diplomat Sergei Lavrov would also attend next week’s Belt and Road forum and hold talks with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
“We welcome countries and partners actively participating in the Belt and Road Initiative to come to Beijing to discuss cooperation plans and seek common development,” another foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said last month.