BEIJING– The 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) next month will be a new starting point for fully fostering the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and co-operative partnership, says the Tunisian Ambassador to China, Dhia Khaled.

In an interview with Xinhua here Monday, Khaled said the upcoming summit would be a “historic meeting” and would create opportunities for China and African countries to deepen co-operation, promote development, and increase mutual understanding.

He added that the summit would usher in a new future of China-Africa co-operation in economy and trade, culture, education, and science and technology.

“I call on African countries to make full use of the summit to strive for the well-being of the peoples of both China and Africa,” Khaled said.

Khaled expressed his hope that the summit will help expand Chinese investment in Africa and spoke highly of the development of relations between China and African countries under the principle of mutual respect, equal co-operation, and mutual benefit.

China and Tunisia signed a memorandum of understanding on the Belt and Road Initiative in July. Khaled said Tunisia has placed great attention on the initiative and is ready to actively participate in the building of the Belt and Road.

Khaled hailed China’s reform and opening-up policy, saying the policy has contributed to the country’s development and its co-operation with other countries, especially with Arab and African countries.

Khaled also noted that China is the fourth largest trade partner of Tunisia, which has also become an increasingly popular destination for Chinese tourists.

In 2017, Tunisia began to offer visa-free entry to Chinese tourists and the number of Chinese tourists rocketed to around 20,000 that year, 12,000 more than in 2016, Khaled said, noting that Tunisia expects to receive 30,000 to 35,000 Chinese tourists this year.

“We are capable of and are willing to have more Chinese tourists visit our country,” Khaled said. “Tunisia values co-operation with China in tourism and looks forward to a higher level of co-operation.”