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Chinese Navy kicks off visit to Malta


08:59, March 27, 2013

VALLETTA, March 26 (Xinhua) -- The 13th Escort Taskforce of the Chinese Navy arrived in Valletta, Malta on Tuesday, beginning a five-day visit to the country.

The escort taskforce, composed of two frigates and one supply ship, arrived at the Grand Harbour of Velletta at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

The visit is the first of its kind made to the nation by the Chinese Navy, said Li Xiaoyan, Commander of the escort taskforce

At the welcoming ceremony held at the port, Brigadier Martin Xuereb, Commander of the Armed Forces of Malta, offered his welcome to the visiting navy, adding it was a good opportunity to strengthen relationships between the two nations.

Xuereb said that China's contribution to the anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia was a testimony to the fact that China was a contributor to the world's peace and stability.

During the visit to Malta, rear admiral Li Xiaoyan will pay visit to Maltese President George Abela and Brigadier Martin Xuereb.

Cultural and sports activities, as well as workshops on convoy missions in the Gulf of Aden are to be held between the Chinese Navy and the Maltese military during the visiting period. Meanwhile, Hengyang, one of the two frigates, will be open to public visitors.

The 13th Escort Taskforce has undertaken China's convoy tasks for a four-month period in the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia before it departed the region on March 18 for nation-visiting tasks.

Malta is the first leg of the taskforce's visiting agenda that also includes Algeria, Morroco, Portugal, and France.

Chinese warships have undertaken anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia since December 2008. To date, the Chinese Navy has escorted more than 5,000 merchant ships in the region.

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