China, Trinidad and Tobago pledge to bolster ties

Updated: 2013-06-02 14:43


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PORT OF SPAIN - China and Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday pledged to promote political trust and economic ties during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Caribbean country.

The two governments signed a host of agreements on economic cooperation and cultural exchanges after Xi held talks with Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

"Deepening bilateral ties serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and the two peoples. We will continue to improve high-level exchanges, enhance political trust and promote practical cooperation," Xi told the press after the signing of the agreements.

During the one-hour meeting with Bissessar, which the Chinese president described as warm, friendly and productive, Xi made a four-point proposal on how to improve relations between China and Trinidad and Tobago.

First, he said the two sides should enhance exchanges of high-level visits and communication between government agencies, legislatures and political parties.

The second is to actively expand cooperation in such sectors as infrastructure construction, energy and mining, Xi said, adding the two sides need to explore new cooperation opportunities in areas such as agriculture, fishing, science and technology, investment and financing, telecommunications and new energy.

Third, they should enhance people-to-people exchanges, especially those in tourism, culture, education and training, health care, sports and media, the Chinese president said.

The fourth is to strengthen coordination on international affairs. Xi said China fully understands the special situation and concerns of small island countries on climate change, and has always been supportive of their appropriate demands in climate change talks.

Bissessar, for her part, said her country is seeking to diversify its economy, and sees China as a key business partner and a potential new market for its energy products.

At a welcome luncheon in honor of Xi, the prime minister said Trinidad and Tobago expects a more strategic and comprehensive relationship with China in several fields, including maritime, energy, and creative industries, as well as food sustainability, tourism and financial services.

She said her country will seek to strengthen relations between Latin America and China, and ties between the Caribbean and China.

"We see this visit as an opportunity to solidify this collaboration," Bissessar added.

Xi arrived in Trinidad and Tobago on Friday evening for a three-day state, the first by a Chinese president since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1974.

On Saturday morning, Xi met with Anthony Carmona, the president of the Caribbean country.

Xi said Trinidad and Tobago is among the first Caribbean countries to establish diplomatic ties with China and has always supported China on issues concerning the core interests of the Asian country.

"The Chinese people will never forget that Trinidad and Tobago cast its vote in favor of restoring the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations in 1971," Xi said.

On Saturday afternoon, the Chinese president also met with Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith and Speaker of House of Representatives Wade Mark, calling for legislative exchanges between the two countries.

After that, Xi attended a ceremony marking the start of the construction of a children's hospital by a Chinese company in the central city of Couva.

During his stay in Trinidad and Tobago, Xi also plans to meet with a host of leaders of the Caribbean countries.

Besides a meeting on Saturday with Baldwin Spencer, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Xi will hold talks on Sunday with leaders of other Caribbean countries having diplomatic ties with China, including Barbados, the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Suriname and Jamaica.

Trinidad and Tobago is the first leg of Xi's three-nation tour in Latin America, which will also take him to Costa Rica and Mexico. He will then fly to the US state of California for a summit with his US counterpart Barack Obama on June 7-8.