Maldives President Abdulla Yameen backs China's OBOR, signs MoU

Maldives' President Abdulla Yameen and China's President Xi Jinping review the Chinese honour guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Web Team Beijing, China Dec 07, 2017, 05.23 PM (IST)

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom met Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing today and pledged to support China's One Belt, One Road initiative(OBOR).

During the meeting, the Chinese premier told President Gayoom that Maldives is an "important partner" in the construction of the 21st century maritime Silk Road, Reuters reported.

"Belt and Road Initiative squares with the development strategies of the Maldives," Xi told Gayoom.

Xi said he hoped the Maldives would continue to support China's cooperation with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

"The Belt and Road initiative has greatly helped the development of many small and medium countries," Gayoom told Xi, Reuters said.

The OBOR project is President Xi's key foreign policy agenda which is now enshrined in the Chinese constitution.

China aims to build road and railway network across Asia connecting Europe and Africa to boost trade, hoping for reciprocal cooperation by participating countries.

Gayoom is the first Asian leader to visit China since the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held in October which re-elected Xi as the general secretary of CPC Central Committee.

The two presidents signed twelve agreements including a memorandum of understanding(MoU) on OBOR and a free trade agreement.

China has signed several agreements with Pakistan on OBOR. The Chinese authorities are also keen to get Nepal and Myanmar to sign-up to the OBOR project.