BEIJING (Reuters) - Hungary has become the first European country to sign a cooperation agreement for China's new "Silk Road" initiative to develop trade and transport infrastructure across Asia and beyond, China's foreign ministry said late on Saturday.
The countries' foreign ministers signed a memorandum of understanding for what is formally known as the "One Belt, One Road" project in Budapest, according to a statement on the Chinese foreign ministry website.
China welcomes more European countries to look East, and strengthen cooperation with China and other Asian countries, and participate in the "One Belt, One Road" in various ways, said Wang Yi, China's foreign minister, according to a separate statement on the website.
President Xi Jinping said earlier this year he hoped annual trade with the countries involved in Beijing's plan to create a modern Silk Road would surpass $2.5 trillion in a decade.
Hungary hopes to closely cooperate with China and push on with the Hungarian-Serbia railway and other major construction projects, Hungary's President Janos Ader was quoted as saying by the Chinese foreign ministry.
China is helping fund and build a railway connecting Hungary and Serbia.
Projects under the plan include a network of railways, highways, oil and gas pipelines, power grids, Internet networks, maritime and other infrastructure links across Central, West and South Asia to as far as Greece, Russia and Oman, increasing China's connections to Europe and Africa.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Paul Carsten; Editing by Kim Coghill)