UPDATE 1-DR Congo leader to visit China this week, minerals trade deal signing expected
(Adds comments from China’s foreign ministry)
BEIJING, May 22 (Reuters) – The president of minerals-rich Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, will visit China from May 24 to 29 and is expected to meet President Xi Jinping to review and sign several key trade deals.
A meeting would pave the way for the two countries to formally overhaul and seal a $6 billion infrastructure-for-minerals deal with Chinese investors. The visit was announced by the Chinese foreign ministry on Monday.
Tshisekedi instructed his government at a cabinet meeting on May 19 to move ahead with talks on the deal with Chinese counterparts after the DRC government and other stakeholders “consolidated their position”, a DRC government statement said.
He informed cabinet members that a task force looking at the deal had submitted its conclusions, enabling discussions with Chinese partners to commence in the coming days.
During the visit to China, the two heads of state will hold talks and attend the signing ceremony of cooperation documents together, the Chinese foreign ministry said.
“The Democratic Republic of Congo is an important country in Africa, and the friendship between China and the Democratic Republic of Congo has a long history,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a regular press briefing.
“Both sides have always supported each other on issues related to each other’s core interests and major concerns. In recent years, political mutual trust between China and the Democratic Republic of Congo has been continuously deepening, and practical cooperation has yielded fruitful results,” Mao added.
Tshisekedi will also meet Premier Li Qiang and Zhao Leji, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the world’s largest producer of battery material cobalt.
(Reporting by Liz Lee; Writing by Bernard Orr; Editing by Kim Coghill, William Maclean)
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