China inaugurates Belt and Road Forum: Here's what key world leaders said about the initiative

In what is being called a major geostrategic initiative, China on Sunday inaugurated the two-day Belt and Road summit in Beijing.

The meeting called the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) is being attended by 29 heads of state and governments including Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif and his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe, besides official delegations from other South Asian countries.

Leaders and officials from various countries including Russia, US, Japan, UK, Germany and France are attending the meeting.

India, on the other hand, has decided to boycott the multi-nation economic project, which is pegged at $1 trillion. New Delhi is protesting the controversial economic corridor's transversing through the disputed territory of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

With the economic corridor creating a flutter across the world media, here is what different world leaders had to say about it.

Nawaz Sharif

Sharif said that the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was an economic project open to all nations in the region and it "must not be politicised", in an apparent reference to India.

As CPEC is closely linked to OBOR, Sharif also spoke on the larger economic corridor.

"The fact is that OBOR belongs to all of us, those who are participating in it and those who are not as yet. Obor has truly become a global community. As Obor unfolds across continents we see it fostering inclusion, creating tolerance and promoting acceptance of cultural diversity," he said.

Prakash Sharan Mahat

Nepal's deputy prime minister Prakash Sharan Mahat hailed the OBOR initiative of the Chinese government.

"The Chinese president's announcement to contribute an additional 100 billion yuan (around $14.5 billion) to the Silk Road Fund is a piece of good news for neighboring countries like Nepal that have recently joined the Belt and Road Initiative," Mahat said.

The foreign minister added that Nepal wishes to receive more investments from China to develop inter-connectivity and infrastructure projects within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

File photo of Chinese president Xi Jinping. Reuters

File image of Chinese president Xi Jinping. Reuters

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan met his Chinese counterpart in Beijing on Sunday and reportedly extended his support to the initiative.

"It will be an initiative that would put an end to terrorism. This cooperation model would be beneficial for everyone," Erdogan said at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation earlier in the day," Erdogan was quoted by Sputnik News as saying.

Vladimir Putin

Russian president Vladimir Putin praised the initiative while addressing the gathering at the summit.

"We welcome China’s One Belt, One Road initiative. By proposing this initiative, President Xi Jinping has demonstrated an example of a creative approach toward fostering integration in energy, infrastructure, transport, industry and humanitarian collaboration, about which I have just talked at length," Putin said.

Alexis Tsiparis

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsiparis is one of the few western leaders to grace the occasion. He said, "In these times, when the temptation is great to respond to the crisis of globalisation by increasing isolation, and by raising walls, this initiative highlights a vision of connectivity, cooperation and dialogue across Europe and Asia but also other parts of the world."

Ranil Wickremesinghe

President Maithripala Sirisena as well as his prime minister Wickremesinghe have been vocal supporters of the deal.

In April 2016, Wickramasinghe had said, "Both Sri Lanka and China are deepening reforms, in the process of which we see huge potential for cooperation. "Sri Lanka is ready to seek more economic cooperation opportunities with China."

Sirisena in February 2017 had assured full support to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on his maritime silk route which is an intrinsic part of the OBOR.

Other reactions on OBOR

British finance minister Philip Hammond said London was "ready to work with all Belt and Road partner countries to make a success of this initiative".

But some officials expressed caution.

German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries called for transparency to ensure that the calls for investment bids are "non-discriminatory".

With inputs from agencies 

Updated Date: May 15, 2017 11:55 AM

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