Xi to resume free trade talks

President Xi Jinping on Monday called for an early restart of negotiations for a free trade area between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council, which Xi called an important partner of China.

Xi made the remarks while meeting King of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-khalifa at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The meeting came as more than 7,300 officials and businesspeople from China and nearly 70 other countries gathered in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region for an expo that includes China and Arab states.

"China and the GCC are important political, economic, trade and energy cooperation partners," a Foreign Ministry statement quoted Xi as saying on Monday.

"The two sides should restart China-GCC free trade area negotiations at an early date and reach a win-win agreement as soon as possible," Xi said.

He also called for the two sides to set up a close and comprehensive relationship.

Premier Li Keqiang also met the king on Monday.

The GCC is a political and economic union of six Arab states that border the Persian Gulf - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. All six are oil exporters.

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