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Xi congratulates Ramaphosa on election, calls for closer China-S. Africa ties

BEIJING, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday extended congratulations to Cyril Ramaphosa on the latter's election as South African president.In his congratulatory message, Xi called Ramaphosa an old friend of the Chinese people who has made important contributions to the development of bilateral relations."I attach great importance to developing the China-South Africa relationship," Xi said, adding that he stands ready to work with Ramaphosa to lift their countries' comprehensive strategic partnership to higher levels.The Chinese leader also suggested that the two sides support each other in hosting later this year the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the Johannesburg Summit of the emerging-market bloc of BRICS, which also groups Brazil, Russia and India.This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of China-South Africa diplomatic relations. The two countries upgraded their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2010.Ramaphosa took office as the fifth president of South Africa on Thursday, replacing Jacob Zuma, who announced his immediate resignation late Wednesday.

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