'Hello old friend': Belarus President Lukashenko in Beijing to meet Xi Jinping

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By Euronews  with AFP
FILE: Composite image of Belarus President Lukashenko and Chinese leader Xi Jinping
FILE: Composite image of Belarus President Lukashenko and Chinese leader Xi Jinping   -  Copyright  AFP

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a three-day visit to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Speaking to the New China Agency, the leader said he was looking forward to seeing his "old friend" Xi Jinping. He also welcomed the recent document released by China summarizing its position on the conflict in Ukraine.

It is "a testament to its peaceful foreign policy as well as a singular new step that will have a broad impact all over the world," he said of the 12-point document unveiled Friday, which calls for respect for state sovereignty and peace negotiations.

"Today, not a single problem in the world can be solved without China," he added.

China hailed Belarus as a "global strategic partner", emphasizing the "mutual trust" between the two countries on Monday.

A close ally of Vladimir Putin, Alexander Lukashenko had supported the invasion of Ukraine by Russia at the very beginning of the military operation launched in late February 2022.

China, for its part, has been trying for several weeks to play a mediating role in this conflict. It denies the allegations of the United States and Nato that it is considering supplying arms to Russia.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Xi Jinping has spoken to Vladimir Putin several times but has not yet spoken to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Belarus shares a border with Ukraine and Russia. However, the country is very dependent on Moscow financially and politically. It allowed Russian troops to pass through its territory to launch their attack on Ukrainian soil last year.

Recently, Lukashenko said he was ready to do the same if he felt that Minsk was in danger.

Ukraine, meanwhile, has expressed concern about further Belarusian support for Russia's war efforts.

Last September, Presidents Xi and Lukashenko met in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where they emphasized their "ironclad" partnership.

The state visit comes after the European Union announced on Monday that it was extending for a year its sanctions against Belarus for its continued repression of the opposition and its support for Russia's war in Ukraine.