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BAKU, June 1. /TASS/. Azerbaijan considers the status of a dialogue partner in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a first step towards full integration in the organization, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said after the meeting with first-ranked Vice Premier of China Zhang Gaoli.
Aliyev noted that cooperation with the SCO "holds an important place in Azerbaijan's foreign policy". Concerning bilateral relations with China, he expressed interest in cooperation with the country in the establishment and development of the Silk Road infrastructure.
President Aliyev added, "Azerbaijan is ready to play an important role in transport of goods from China to Europe and back." To do this, he said, the country’s railway system is currently under construction, as well as the largest Caspian sea port, where a free economic zone will be created.
"Azerbaijan is interested in active participation of Chinese companies in this projects," he said.
He also said that Baku welcomes Chinese investment in various sectors of the country’s economy. According to Aliyev, "there is a great potential for cooperation with China in the field of tourism, culture, education, energy, transportation, technology, agriculture, and communications."
Zhang Gaoli said that his country "will encourage Chinese companies to invest in the economy of Azerbaijan." He said that China is interested in the restoration of the Silk Road project, as well as expansion of cooperation with Azerbaijan in the production sector, oil and gas industry, engineering, and technology.