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Xi urges closer ties with Antigua and Barbuda

By Zhu Zhe in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago and Chen Weihua in Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2013-06-03 08:15

President Xi Jinping stressed Antigua and Barbuda's importance to China in the Caribbean region, and thanked the country for its strong support for China's core interests.

In his meeting with Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer on Saturday in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, Xi said he hoped China and Antigua and Barbuda would join hands in pushing bilateral cooperation to a new level.

The Chinese president, who is on a four-nation regional tour that will also take him to Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States, said China will emphasize the proposals put forward by Antigua and Barbuda on cooperation in areas regarding tourism and people's livelihood.

The two nations will also exchange views on environmental and ecological fronts, Xi said.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Antigua and Barbuda, with a population of 81,800 according to a 2011 census, was the first country in the East Caribbean to establish diplomatic ties with China, back in 1983.

"(I) hope the two sides will take the opportunity to push the friendly cooperation to a higher level," Xi told Spencer.

He said China hopes to strengthen coordination and cooperation with Antigua and Barbuda when the Caribbean nation assumes the presidency of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, which will open in September.

Spencer praised Xi's visit to the region as being "of historic significance to the China-Caribbean relationship".

He expressed his appreciation for China's support and its long emphasis on developing a bilateral relationship based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence.

Spencer hopes the two countries will further strengthen cooperation in economic and trade, people-to-people, culture and multilateral areas.

"I believe China's development will bring opportunities for common development to Antigua and Barbuda as well as other Caribbean nations," said Spencer, who sent a letter of congratulations last November immediately after Xi was elected general secretary of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

According to a statement from the Chinese embassy in Antigua and Barbuda, Xi's trip to the region and meeting with Spencer was arranged shortly after Xi was elected president in March.

"This demonstrates the great importance attached to China-Caribbean relations, as well as China-Antigua and Barbuda relations by the new Chinese leader," the statement said.

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