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China's Xi Pledges $20 Billion in Loans to Revive Middle East

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday pledged a package of $20 billion (15.12 billion pounds) in loans, and about $106 million in financial aid, to Middle East nations, as part of what he called an "oil and gas plus” model to revive economic growth in the region.

Beijing has ramped up engagement in the Middle East in recent years as Arab nations play an important role in Xi’s signature Belt and Road foreign policy plan for strong trade routes linking China with central and southeast Asia.

Development was key to resolving many security problems in the Middle East, Xi told a gathering with representatives of 21 Arab nations in the Chinese capital. "We should treat each other frankly, not fear differences, not avoid problems, and have ample discussion on each aspect of foreign policy and development strategy,” he said.

China would offer aid worth 100 million yuan ($15 million) to Palestine to support economic development, besides providing a further 600 million yuan ($91 million) to Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, he added. A consortium of banks from China and Arab nations, with a dedicated fund of $3 billion, will also be set up, he said.

It was unclear what the relationship between the bank consortium, financial aid and the overall loan package would be.

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