China invites India to join MSR Project with Lanka.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday (28) said that China stands ready to sign treaties of friendship and cooperation with all its neighbors to provide strong support for the development of bilateral relations as well as prosperity and stability in the region.

Treaties of friendship have been signed with eight neighboring countries and Beijing is holding discussions with ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), Xi said addressing the China sponsored Boao Forum for Asia annual conference held in the country's southern island of Hainan.

"China stands ready to sign such a treaty with all its neighbors and to provide strong support for the bilateral relations as well as prosperity and stability in the region," he said.

Referring to an old Chinese proverb 'Close neighbors are better than distant relatives', President Xi Jinping said that China is working actively to develop win-win cooperation with neighbors.

About 15 world leaders, including Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena attended the meeting. Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Chairman Emeritus of TATA group Ratan Tata along with 1,800 officials and business leaders from abroad attended the meeting.

Besides stressing close ties with neighbors, President Xi Jinping also said that a vision and action paper of China-proposed multibillion dollar 'Belt and Road' initiative has been developed thanks to the concerted efforts of relevant parties.

The Belt and Road initiative refers to revival of ancient Silk Road and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) connecting China with Europe and Africa through different routes. India has been invited to take part in the Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar (BCIM) as well as the MSR projects. While India is taking part in the discussions on BCIM, it is yet to announce its stand on the MSR due to reservations over Chinese dominance in Indian Ocean.

President Xi Jinping said that substantive progress has been made in the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which has been joined by India and 30 other countries.

More countries were expected to join before the closing date of applications on March 31.

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