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Panama President Cheers China's 'Belt and Road' Initiative


Panama President Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez delivers a speech at a conference on the Panama invest in Hong Kong, April 2, 2019.

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela says his country sees a "big opportunity" in China's massive "Belt and Road" infrastructure initiative.

Speaking Tuesday in Hong Kong, Varela said the initiative, which aims to weave a network of ports, bridges and power plants linking China with Africa, Europe and beyond, is a chance to "connect Asia and America to Panama."

China plans to hold a major international conference on the initiative in Beijing later this month attracting world leaders, possibly including Valera.

Valera said the initiative is "all about connectivity and Panama is one of the most connected countries in the region," citing its ports and airport, along with the Panama Canal.

Panama switched diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China in 2017, citing the needs of its trade and finance-centered economy.

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