May 23, 2019
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Belt and Road initiative can protect against trade wars, Putin says

Beijing, Apr 26 (efe-epa).- Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, said on Friday that the Belt and Road Initiative, a massive investment and construction project spearheaded by China, is an opportunity to tackle potential risks from countries intent on launching trade wars.

The development strategy aims to connect Asia with Africa, the Middle East and Europe via land and maritime networks.

Putin was addressing the opening of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

“It is important to work out an effective response to the risks of fragmentation of the global political, economic and technology space; to the growth of protectionism with frequently used illegitimate unilateral restrictions or, even worse, trade wars, imposed bypassing the UN Security Council being its most dangerous form," Putin said.

The Russian president echoed remarks made earlier by his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, who urged multilateral efforts based on international cooperation in tackling global issues such as slowing economic growth, development inequality between nations and technological underdevelopment.

"I have said it many times and want to repeat that those negative tendencies create grounds for terrorism, extremism and illegal migration, stand behind reigniting old and starting new regional conflicts," Putin said.

The comments appeared to be a veiled reference to the United States, which has been embroiled in an ongoing trade dispute with China, and has filed several complaints with the World Trade Organization against Russia and the European Union, among others.

He said Russia supported the initiative to unite the various countries in Europe and Asia under the project, also known as the New Silk Road, which adheres to Moscow’s own policies of connectivity and multilateralism.

Putin pointed to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which seeks “to ensure (the) widest cooperation with all interest countries and alliances, primarily with China”.

He also said that he would have a bilateral meeting with Xi on Friday to discuss the themes outlined in their respective speeches and how to implement the proposed policies and projects.

Earlier on Friday, Xi Jinping had opened the forum, which brings together 37 heads of state or government, as well as high-level representatives from other countries and international organizations, such as UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde.

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