Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Rhodes yesterday during a stopover on his way to South America. Mr. Papoulias hosted a banquet in his honor, whereas Mr. Samaras came to the airport to welcome him before taking him on a tour to the historic palace of the grand master of the Knights of Rhodes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was built in the 14th and 15th centuries.
During the meeting, Mr. Samaras noted Greece’s help to China when it withdrew tens of thousands of overseas Chinese from war-torn Libya several years ago. He also thanked China’s assistance in Greece’s response to its soverign debt crisis.
On his part, Mr. Xi said that Greece and China have enjoyed deep friendship as they showed understanding and support during times of difficulty. “The Chinese side will continue to support Greece on sovereign debt issues and efforts to promote economic recovery,” he said. He added that both sides should maintain close high-level cooperation in transportation infrastructure, maritime, energy and green economy. Mr. Xi said that China supports Chinese companies to properly manage the Port of Piraeus and actively participates in the technical renovation of Greek railways.
“As Greece is emerging from the shadow of its sovereign debt crisis, we are more motivated to cooperate with China, and are ready to enhance cooperation in sectors including communications, energy, environmental protection, science and technology innovation and modern logistics, and make Greece the gateway to the European market,” said Mr. Samaras.
During the tour of the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes Mr. Xi said that China and Greece should expand people-to-people exchanges and jointly promote both countries’ traditional cultures.
He noted that both Mr. Papoulias and Mr. Samaras had come to the island to meet him, a move that is indicative of the Greek people’s deep affection towards the Chinese and expressed satisfaction for the visit. This is the second high-level visit to Greece by a Chinese leader in a month following Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s trip on June 19-21. The visit is hailed as “highly symbolic” showcasing the two countries’ strong willingness to further strengthen ties.
Mr. Xi is leaving Rhodes for Brazil today to pay state visits to Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba as well as attend the sixth BRICS Summit and China-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit in Brazil.