Xi expressed welcome to speakers from Nordic and Baltic countries
Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with parliamentary speakers from Nordic and Baltic countries at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday, and called on both sides to strengthen cooperation under the "Belt and Road Initiative."
The speakers of seven countries from the Baltic and Nordic regions of Europe are in China to discuss projects including the Belt and Road initiative and Arctic Circle protection. 
Xi said those countries and China should continue to maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges and seek and expand common ground. He said it is necessary to link up their respective development strategies and expand fields and channels of cooperation. In particular, he called on both sides to strengthen cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative and share the development dividends brought by interconnection between Asia and Europe.
CGTN Photo

CGTN Photo

The delegates include Finland's Maria Lohela, Norway's Olemic Thommessen, Iceland's Steingrimur J. Sigfusson, Estonia's Eiki Nestor, Latvia's Inara Murniece, Lithuania's Viktoras Pranckietis and Sweden's Eva Thalen Finne.
Xi said their joint visit to China was the beginning of a new model for high-level talks between China and the Nordic and Baltic countries, and it means their political mutual trust and exchange and cooperation in various fields enter a new era of rapid development. Xi added that China was always looking to maintain their healthy and sustainable relationship. 
The guests said that the Nordic and the Baltic countries cherish their friendship with China and are willing to further develop friendly cooperative relations with China. They said they were keen to continue working with China on the Belt and Road Initiative and protecting the Arctic circle.
Murniece, Latvia's speaker of parliament said the "Belt and Road Initiative" promoted by Xi presents great opportunity. "For the Baltic region, it's the silk road and amber road because amber is a semi-precious stone coming from Baltic states, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, and let's collide and unite those roads, the amber road and the silk road," she said.
“All of us are Arctic nations and we are very close to the Arctic circle, so we are taking it very seriously. It's a very fragile and delicate part of the world. It's our responsibility for us that we are treating it sustainably. And we welcome China's input. I think one of the greatest area for cooperation is research to better understand the environment and the conditions around the Arctic," said Lohela, Finland's speaker of parliament.  
Before wrapping up their visit on Saturday, the Nordic and Baltic Parliament speakers are travelling to Sichuan to experience more local culture. 
"This is my first time in China. And I have had a fantastic and overwhelming experience in a positive way. The three days we have had so far have given me a new point of view for many things about China," said Thommenssen, Norway’s speaker of parliament.  
"I would say this trip to me has clearly shown a lot of the positive effects of China's reforms: that you have opened up to market economy and globalization," Finne, Sweden’s deputy speaker of parliament said.
(CGTN's Xu Xinchen has contributed to this story.)