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China announces 'strategic partnership' with Syria

China is one of only a handful of countries outside the Middle East that Assad has visited since the 2011 start of a civil war
— Hangzhou (China) (AFP)

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a "strategic partnership" with Syria on Friday during talks with President Bashar al-Assad, who is seeking financial support to help rebuild his devastated country.

The leaders met on the eve of the Asian Games opening ceremony, which Assad will attend as part of his first visit to China since 2004.

China is one of only a handful of countries outside the Middle East that Assad has visited since the 2011 start of a civil war that killed more than half a million people, displaced millions and battered Syria's infrastructure and industry.

Assad is the latest in a string of leaders ostracised by the West to be feted by Beijing, with Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro and Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi visiting this year, as well as top Russian officials.

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