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Xi eyes larger Mideast presence with $15bn loan

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Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, shakes hands with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.   © Reuters

CAIRO/BEIJING -- Chinese President Xi Jinping announced roughly $15 billion in lending for the Middle East for infrastructure development and other projects Thursday in a bid to gain clout as the American presence wanes.

     "China is ready to work with Arab states," Xi stressed in a speech to the Cairo-based Arab League. "The international community should respect the will and role of those directly involved," he said, presenting Beijing as a neutral party in an area often torn by clashing interests. Xi apparently believes that China, which pushes for a nonintervention policy, will be better accepted than the U.S. or Europe by Arab countries.

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