China, Cuba agree to further expand cooperation
Developing friendly co-operative relations between China and Cuba suits to the fundamental interests of both countries and contributes to world peace, visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao told his Cuban counterpart on Monday.
In reviewing bilateral ties since China and Cuba forged diplomatic relations in 1960, Hu said the countries' bond has withstood test of time and the change of international situation.
The two nations remain fraternal friends, supporting and treating each other in a frank and honest way, he said.
Expansion of such relationship is in the fundamental interest of both peoples and conducive to world peace and common development, Hu said.
Castro, who suffers a leg injury, received Hu sitting in a wheelchair as they held talks at the government headquarters, the Palace of the Revolution.
To continuously develop friendly relations with the Caribbean country, Hu proposed the two sides increase exchanges to gear up their friendly co-operation along a long-term and steady track in all fields.
To be specific, the two countries may keep up and expand exchanges between governments, parliaments and political parties.
In addition, direct links are encouraged among non-governmental organizations and higher institutions, Hu said.
With regard to trade, Hu proposed the two sides deepen mutually beneficial co-operation.
Cuba has abundant tourism resources and optimal conditions for developing marine fishery. Its bio-technology is also very advanced, Hu said.
Two-way trade stood at about US$356.8 million in 2003. The trade volume surged by 36.7 per cent to reach US$401 million through September this year, indicated Chinese customs statistics.
Hu also said the two countries should shore up consultation and co-ordination in international affairs and defend the legitimate rights of developing countries, thus contributing to world peace and development.
Castro said he fully agreed with Hu's proposals.
Talking about bilateral trade, Castro mentioned specially China's colour TV sets, which he said are of good quality.
Following its import of 1.3 million such products from China since 2000, Castro said Cuba hopes to purchase another 1 million.
He said he had closely followed China's development and was pleased to see China's fast-pace growth and the rapid development of Cuban-Sino relations.
After the meeting of the top leaders, the two governments signed a dozen of documents with regard to plant quarantine, fishery, bio-technology and economic co-operation, and a memorandum on jointly launching a ferro-nickle plant in Cuba.
Hu was scheduled to leave Cuba on Tuesday local