HAVANA, (Xinhua) — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Havana Saturday for an official visit to Cuba.
Li’s trip to Havana is the first official visit to the Caribbean country by a Chinese premier since the two countries established diplomatic ties 56 years ago.
Although China and Cuba are far apart, the hearts of our two peoples are very close to each other, Li said on his arrival.
“I’m looking forward to deepening the two countries’ traditional friendship, enhancing pragmatic cooperation, increasing people-to-people exchanges, and working together and promoting cooperation at a critical time for both countries, so as to carry forward China-Cuba relations on a higher level,” said the Chinese premier.
Li, accompanied by his wife Cheng Hong and senior Chinese officials, is in Havana as guest of President of the Cuban Council of State and Council of Ministers Raul Castro Ruz.
During the visit, he will meet Raul Castro over strengthening China-Cuba cooperation and friendship, and the two countries are set to sign nearly 30 intergovernmental agreements and business contracts covering a broad range of fields such as economy, technology, finance, industrial capacity cooperation, information communications, new energy, and inspection and quarantine.
Li is also scheduled to visit Cuba’s revolutionary leader and former President Fidel Castro.
Rafael Hernandez, a professor of international relations at the University of Havana, said Li’s visit represents a “perfect opportunity” to upgrade economic and political ties between the two countries.
At the airport, a welcoming ceremony was held for Li, which was attended by Miguel Diaz-Canel, Cuba’s first vice-president of the councils of state and ministers, and some other senior officials.
China is Cuba’s second largest trade partner, with sugar, tourism and biomedical research playing a key role in the island nation’s economy.
Cuba, the first country in Latin America to establish diplomatic ties with China, is the last stop of Li’s America tour, following his attendance in the 71st session of the UN General Assembly in New York and an official visit to Canada.