BEIJING: China and Azerbaijan have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt.

"The signing of the MOU shows that the substantial cooperation between the two countries has entered into a new stage," Chinese President Xi Jinping told his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev in talks.

The two presidents also signed a joint statement on developing friendly relations of cooperation, and witnessed the signing of a series of deals in areas including trade, the judiciary, civil aviation, education, transportation and energy.

Speaking highly of Azerbaijan's support to China's Belt and Road initiative, Xi said China is ready to strengthen communication on policies with Azerbaijan and integrate both sides' development strategies.

The Belt and Road refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road .

Xi said the two countries could seek cooperation on big projects on energy, communication and infrastructure. China is willing to enhance the bilateral financial and transportation cooperation, and expand exchanges between the two countries' parliaments, social organizations, youth groups and media so as to promote mutual understanding, he said.

Hailing the friendship between Azerbaijan and China and the rapid development of bilateral ties in recent years, Aliyev said the signing of the agreements will promote the in-depth development of bilateral relations. Calling China's development "positive impetus" to the world, Aliyev said Azerbaijan is pleased to see China realize its development strategy.

Azerbaijan supports China's Belt and Road initiative and would like to participate, he said.

Also on Thursday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with Aliyev. Li said both China and Azerbaijan have entered into a key stage of social and economic development. China would like to better integrate development strategy with Azerbaijan, further explore cooperation on areas including the economy, trade and energy, he said.

Regarding China "a close friend of Azerbaijan," Aliyev said his country is willing to beef up all-round cooperation with China to the greatest extent, welcome Chinese enterprises' investment, setting up factories and participation into the development of infrastructure construction, industrial parks and energy in Azerbaijan.