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China's Xi Praises Close Ties with Cuba

  • VOA News

Cuba's President Raul Castro, right, shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping during a meeting at Revolution Palace in Havana, Cuba, July 22, 2014.

Cuba's President Raul Castro, right, shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping during a meeting at Revolution Palace in Havana, Cuba, July 22, 2014.

The head of China's Communist Party hailed the common socialist bond between his country and Cuba as he kicked off a state visit in Havana.

President Xi Jinping was welcomed Tuesday by a military guard of honor at the Palace of the Revolution, where he met with Cuban President Raul Castro.

Castro said his country's ties with China are "at their best in history."

Xi also praised the multi-faceted relationship.

"I feel that as socialist countries, China and Cuba are intimately united to fight for the same missions, ideals and goals. Currently, China has played the bugle to begin to dig deeply in our reforms, while Cuba is in the process of updating its economic model," Xi said.

"Both countries stand before historic, magnificent and arduous missions. China is full of confidence regarding the future development of relations between our country and Cuba and we will always be good friends, partners and brothers of Cuba and we will work together to bring relations between China and Cuba to new heights," he added.

Xi also met briefly with aging revolutionary leader and former President Fidel Castro as he began his two-day visit.

The trip is meant to expand political ties between the two allies and boost Chinese investment in Cuba.

China is Cuba's biggest international creditor and its second biggest trading partner, behind Venezuela.

On Wednesday, Xi will travel to Santiago de Cuba, which was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Cuba is the last stop on a four-nation tour of Latin American countries, some of which have often been shunned by American investors.

The trip also included state visits to Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil.

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