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Uruguayan president seeks to boost ties with China

By Gerardo Laborde, Yang Guang (Xinhua)

18:17, May 22, 2013

MONTEVIDEO, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Uruguayan President Jose Mujica says he will seek to boost political, economic and social ties with Beijing "as much as possible" during his upcoming trip to China.

Mujica, who is scheduled to make his first visit China on May 25-28, will meet with President Xi Jinping and other senior Chinese officials.

Although Uruguay and China are separated by the vast Pacific Ocean, Uruguay has attached great importance to developing friendly relations with Beijing since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1988, Mujica said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Mujica, who currently holds the rotating presidency of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), said China is an "extremely important" partner for both Uruguay and Mercosur.

Uruguay will make efforts to promote all-round pragmatic cooperation between the bloc and China, Mujica said.

Mujica said the bloc will decide whether to pursue trade negotiations with China this year, a proposal made last year by then Premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to Latin America.

"We are going to have a (Mercosur) meeting probably before the end of the year and that proposal will be on the table," he said.

Uruguay exports a great quantity of beef, wool and soybeans to China while China's advanced technology, rich experience in infrastructure and great investment capacity is what Uruguay needs for development, he said.

China's customs statistics show that bilateral trade has increased more than 30 times from 25 years ago and reached about 4.33 billion U.S. dollars last year, making China Uruguay's largest trade partner.

Mujica said the two countries are expected to reach agreements on cooperation in economy and trade, finance, education, tourism, technology and information during his visit.

Eyeing enhanced cooperation in infrastructure with China, Mujica said he expected to return from Beijing with a deal to restore Uruguay's deteriorated railway network.

"We have to transform our railway, and we have a plan to build a deep-water port at the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean, among other important projects," Mujica said.

Mujica will attend the Beijing International Fair for Trade in Services to attract more investment and deliver a speech at Beijing Foreign Studies University. He also will visit northern port city of Tianjin to learn about its experiences in rail and port development.

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