TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he is in talks with China to join its Belt and Road Initiative, as he looks for funding to rebuild Syria.

– World news –

Assad said he has proposed a number of projects to Beijing in the hope of securing investment for reconstruction in the war-torn country.

“There are mutual interests: it is beneficial to China, Syria and all the countries on this Road,” he told Chinese Phoenix TV station, according to Reuters.

China has for years been trying to revive historic trading links with the Middle East through its Belt and Road initiative, a $1 trillion overseas investment plan.

Oil-rich Syria was invited for the first time to attend a summit on the Initiative in April. 

“We have proposed around six projects to the Chinese government in line with the Belt and Road methodology and we are waiting to hear which project, or projects, is in line with their thinking,” Assad said in an interview published on Monday.

“I think when this infrastructure is developed, with time, the Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative) passing through Syria becomes a foregone conclusion because it is not a road you only draw on a map.”

The foreign-backed war on Syria has laid waste to entire cities and destroyed the country’s critical infrastructure, including the destruction of nearly a quarter of its housing stock. 

The United Nations has estimated the cost of damage at more than $388 billion, and the cost of lost productivity to GDP at around $268 billion.

Most experts agree that it will take at least a decade to repair the war damage.