By Joe Money and Liz Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) -Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko met China’s chief Xi Jinping in Beijing on Monday for the second time this yr, with the diplomatically remoted chief speaking up his nation’s financial ties to the Asian big amid biting Western sanctions.

The shut ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin is on a “working go to” to the Chinese language capital and was acquired by Xi on the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse for a “working lunch” and three hours of talks, in accordance with Belarussian state media.

Lukashenko, the president of Belarus since 1994, backed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 by permitting Moscow to make use of its territory to launch the conflict, however is confronted with a crippled financial system that’s closely reliant on commerce with Russia.

“China is keen to proceed to strengthen strategic cooperation with Belarus, promote sensible cooperation and deepen bilateral relations,” Xi advised his visitor, in accordance with Chinese language state information company Xinhua.

“The 2 sides ought to implement initiatives just like the China-Belarus Industrial Park and promote extra achievements in China-Belarus industrial cooperation,” Xinhua reported Xi as saying.

The world’s second-largest financial system was Belarus’ seventh largest buying and selling accomplice in 2021 and earlier than the conflict in Ukraine, in accordance U.N. Comtrade information. China was Belarus’ second-largest import accomplice, however the Jap European nation purchased round three-quarters much less from China than it did from Russia.

Lukashenko highlighted the scope to develop his nation’s business ties with China, Belarussian state media stated, and lauded the “greater than 120” two-way visits made by Chinese language and Belarussian events because the leaders final met in March.

Quickening the tempo of cooperation between China and Belarus was “the one situation” Lukashenko wished to debate with Xi on this go to to the Chines capital, the report added.

Xi advised Lukashenko that each international locations ought to enhance cross-border transport facilitation and promote financial and commerce initiatives just like the China-Belarus Industrial Park, in addition to people-to-people exchanges, in accordance with Xinhua.

Belarus faces sanctions from the USA, European Union, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, and quite a lot of different international locations over its assist of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and longer standing points surrounding political repression.

Lukashenko advised Xi that the world would thank China for its efforts to carry international locations into his flagship Belt and Street Initiative, “in contrast to Western international locations which can be attempting to chop the whole lot into items,” Belarussian state media reported.

Xi provided to reinforce coordination and cooperation between China and Belarus in multilateral mechanisms such because the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Xinhua report stated.

“China and Belarus are necessary forces within the reform and development of the worldwide governance system,” it quoted Xi as saying.

(Further reporting by Ella Cao and Lidia Kelly; Modifying by Kim Coghill and Jamie Freed)

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