Croatian Parliament Speaker Josip Leko on Tuesday took part in the 5th China-Central and Eastern European Countries Economic and Trade Forum and the 4th  meeting of the prime ministers of Central and Eastern European countries and China, the Croatian Parliament's public relations office said in a statement.

Progress made in cooperation between China and the 16 countries of Central and Eastern Europe (the so-called 1+16) and the promotion of further cooperation with the aim of forming a comprehensive partnership were the main topics of the 5th China-CEEC Economic and Trade Forum held in Suzhou, a major city located in southeastern Jiangsu Province of East China, about 100 km northwest of Shanghai.

The event is being attended by representatives of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Serbia. who discussed the medium-term agenda for cooperation between China and CEEC "1+16" which aims to improve 16+1 cooperation and further unleash its potential by setting out directions and priorities for 16+1 cooperation from 2015 to 2020. Based on mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the participants will actively implement the agenda, in accordance with the EU legislation, regulations and policies, the statement said.

Leko also attended and addressed the 4th meeting of the prime ministers of Central and Eastern European countries and China. "Croatia strongly supports mechanisms promoting cooperation between China and the 16 CEEC countries and we see this form of cooperation as one of the three key pillars in the overall Croatia-China relations," Leko said.

He added that Croatia was interested in infrastructure development projects, expanding air, railway and maritime communications between Croatia and China and in that sense it positively assessed the new project of the China-Europe Land-Sea Express Route.

Leko also expressed satisfaction with the adopted medium-term agenda and guidelines, saying that both documents were a starting point for moving forward. "Croatia is looking forward to hosting the tourism ministerial meeting China + 16 in 2016," Leko said in his speech.

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said his country was prepared to set up the financial structure for infrastructure projects in Central and Eastern Europe and offer favourable interest rates.

On Tuesday evening, Leko is expected to meet with Croatian business people who are taking part in the economic forum. On Wednesday he is scheduled to hold talks with Chinese PM Li.

On Thursday, Leko will hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Zhang Dejiang, as well as with representatives of Huawei and COSCO.

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