Beijing to host China-Central Asia Summit starting Thursday

Leaders of China and Central Asian nations have gathered in inland China for a two-day summit to discuss enhancing collaboration through China's Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

The China-Central Asia Summit brings together leaders from five Central Asian nations, including Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as China. The summit, which will be held for the first time, is taking place in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, starting Thursday.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry says President Xi Jinping will give a speech at the gathering. He will then exchange views with other leaders on cooperation in a broad range of fields.

The leaders are to wrap up the summit after jointly signing a political document.

Expanding participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, aimed at creating a massive economic zone, will be high on the agenda.

Xi is also expected to hold separate talks with each leader.

Ministry officials say Xi held talks with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Wednesday and stressed that the two countries have ushered in a new "golden age" of bilateral ties.

Xi expressed willingness to carry forward the traditional friendship shared between the two sides.

The summit comes as leaders of the Group of Seven bloc are set to meet in Hiroshima, western Japan, on Friday.

China appears determined to strengthen cooperation with Central Asian nations to elevate its presence in the region and keep the US in check.