BANGUI, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- The Central African Republic (CAR) stands ready to join the Belt and Road Initiative and wants its central location in Africa to be an advantage, President Faustin-Archange Touadera said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
In the run-up to the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Touadera said the Belt and Road Initiative is "the important subject of connectivity."
The CAR is "a continental country that does not have an outlet to the sea, and this hampers its development," said the president. However, with the Belt and Road Initiative, his country is now able to "turn this handicap into an advantage, because the CAR is at the heart of Africa."
"If we want to build roads, necessarily the roads go across the CAR. If we are developing air transport, I think that the CAR is a central point from north to south, from east to west," he said.
The CAR is thus ready to join the Belt and Road Initiative with other African countries and the Chinese government and the Chinese people, he added.
Ahead of his trip to China to attend the Beijing summit, Touadera spoke highly of bilateral cooperation which is "in the mutual interests of both countries."
"The CAR and China have very good relations of cooperation and friendship, it is an opportunity for me to thank the Chinese government and the Chinese people for this cooperation," he said.
According to the president, there is important potential for bilateral cooperation that is already fruitful. Infrastructure, transport, energy, mining, agriculture and health are among the priority areas for cooperation.
"Our desire is to be able to see this cooperation intensify and develop," he said. "There is no obstacle to the development of this cooperation ... We have men who are committed on both sides and governments that want to go in that direction."
"We are working on recovery issues. We have partners like China who support us in this context," he said, taking the Chinese medical team as an example.
The day after the interview with Xinhua, Touadera visited the Hospital of Friendship in the capital Bangui where the Chinese medical team is based, and witnessed a donation of medicines and medical equipment.
At the end of the interview, Touadera recalled his stay in China in 2005 when he was rector of the University of Bangui. "It was a good experience," said the president.
"The Beijing summit is very, very important for Africa and also for China ... These exchanges will be very important for the development of Africa in general in all areas, and there is an experience that we should know and share," he said.
"The first thing we are looking for is to benefit from the Chinese experience," he added.