BEIJING, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Arab League (AL) chief Nabil al-Arabi has called for closer relations between Arab countries and China.
Arabi, who is visiting China from May 4 to 9 at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, told Xinhua here Monday he was looking forward to attending the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum to be held in Tunisia at the end of this month.
"Since it launched in 2004, it has become the external model of friendly cooperation," he said, lauding the forum's important role in promoting Sino-Arab cooperation.
"It has promoted bilateral cooperation in various fields, and the two sides have made considerable progress in political, economic, cultural and other areas," he said.
Arabi said bilateral trade had increased from 36 billion U.S. dollars in 2004 to 200 billion dollars in 2011.
As a major world power, China had, as always, supported the Arab countries' just causes, including that of the Palestinians, which was appreciated by the Arab countries, he said.
This is Arabi's first visit to China since he became AL chief in July 2010.
During his visit, Arabi will meet Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to discuss China-Arab ties and issues concerning the ministerial meeting.
The two sides will also exchange views on international and regional issues of common concern, including the unrest in Syria.