The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can help expand economic cooperation across the globe and ensure stability and security in the countries and regions along its routes, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said here.

As Beijing is gearing up for the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation later this month during which the Azerbaijani leader will be one of the dignitaries in attendance, President Aliyev voiced his optimism and support for the BRI in a recent written interview with Xinhua News Agency.

He said the BRI reflects many noble ideas such as strengthening communication between different civilisations and cultures, promoting economic development and prosperity in various countries, and enhancing people-to-people exchanges.

“I hope that the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be a step forward in this direction and will create a good opportunity to conduct effective and productive discussions,” said the President.

Proposed by China in 2013, the BRI aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road trade routes in a bid to seek common development and prosperity.

President Aliyev noted that the BRI improves connectivity and makes countries become more interdependent and will bring positive influences on regional stability and security.

He also reaffirmed Azerbaijan’s full support for the BRI, hailing prospects for cooperation between the two countries in the transportation sector as “very good.”

“The construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad that connects Asia and Europe is the shortest transportation route to bring goods from China to Europe and vice versa,” he said.

President Aliyev spoke highly of Sino-Azerbaijani relations and commended the fruitful bilateral cooperation in areas of politics, the economy, trade and culture.

“Azerbaijan and China have maintained a traditional friendship and frequent political exchanges. My official visit in 2005 and state visit in 2015 to China once again proved our mutual will to further develop and deepen bilateral relations,” he said.

“Azerbaijan joined the Chinese initiative and became a co-founder of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. A number of Chinese companies have successful activities in Azerbaijan and we want to see more Chinese firms as investors, traders and contractors in our country,” President Aliyev added.

Bilateral trade between Azerbaijan and China has topped 1.3 billion U.S. dollars, according to President Aliyev.

Azerbaijan has also simplified the visa process for Chinese visitors in a bid to boost tourism flows from China. China is a diplomatic priority for Azerbaijan, and the further development of bilateral relations is in the interests of both countries and peoples, President Aliyev said.