Premier warmly welcomed by Fidel Castro

Updated: 2016-09-27 01:57

By Zhao Huanxin in Havana and An Baijie in Beijing(China Daily)

Premier warmly welcomed by Fidel Castro

Premier Li Keqiang meets Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba, on Sunday. [Photo/Agencies]

Premier Li Keqiang met with Fidel Castro, the 90-year-old leader of the Cuban Revolution, on Sunday during his visit to the island nation in an expression of respect for the legendary revolutionary.

China cherishes the traditional friendship with Cuba, Li said, adding that China is willing to enhance political mutual trust with Cuba, expand cooperation and boost the friendship between the people of both countries.

No matter how international relations change, the China-Cuba comradeship and brotherly relationship, based on mutual respect, equal treatment and common interests, will never be changed, Li said.

Castro, who celebrated his birthday in August, spoke of the historical links between the two countries as symbolized by the participation of ethnic Chinese soldiers in Cuba's wars of independence and liberation, according to the Cuban newspaper Granma.

As the leader of the revolution, which culminated in the 1959 overthrow of Fulgencio Batista, Castro has maintained close ties with generations of Chinese leaders.

President Xi Jinping met with him twice in the three years from 2011 to 2014.

In 2011, Xi, then vice-president, visited Castro's house, which was shaded by moringa trees. In July 2014, during his state visit to Cuba, Xi presented Castro with some seeds of moringa and mulberry trees. Xi promised closer cooperation with Cuba to develop the moringa — its leaves and green stems can be fed to cattle, helping to solve the problems of grain supply and livestock feed.

He Shuangrong, a researcher of Latin American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the fact that Chinese leaders meet Fidel Castro every time they visit Cuba shows the strong ties between the two countries.

"Both countries are socialist countries. Their ties are those between good brothers and good partners," He said, adding that the two countries not only have growing economic relations but also lend each other political support.

Li, the first Chinese premier to visit Cuba in more than 50 years, also boarded a bus on Sunday that had been exported by Chinese vehicle maker Yutong. It has sold over 5,000 buses to Cuba.

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