China says willing to deepen mutual political trust with Belarus

FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang meets with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Cairo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is willing to work with Belarus to deepen mutual political trust, Foreign Minister Qin Gang told his Belarusian counterpart Sergei Aleinik on Friday, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement.

In September last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko announced an "all-weather" strategic partnership, in a step-up in bilateral ties. China signed a "no limits" partnership with close Belarus ally Russia just before Moscow invaded Ukraine a year ago.

"The Chinese side is willing to work with Belarus to implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, maintaining high-level exchanges under the strategic guidance of both leaders, and deepening mutual political trust," Qin said in a phone call with Aleinik.

China will also continue to support Belarus in maintaining its national stability, and will oppose attempts by "external forces" to interfere in its internal affairs or impose "illegal" unilateral sanctions on Belarus.

A year ago, Belarus, which shares a border with Ukraine and Russia, allowed Russia to use its territory as a launchpad for its attack on Ukraine. President Alexander Lukashenko said earlier this month that Belarus was ready to do so again.

Kyiv has voiced concerns for months that Belarus could join the war on Russia's side, a potential threat that has forced it to divert troops to defend the north of Ukraine while waging war with Russia in the east and south.

(This story has been refiled to remove the extraneous word in paragraph 2)

(Reporting by Beijing Newsroom, Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Philippa Fletcher)