|Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R front) and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (L front) review the guard of honor at a welcoming ceremony in Athens, Greece, June 19, 2014. Li arrived here Thursday for an official visit, his first trip to Greece since taking office in 2013. (Xinhua/Li Tao)|
ATHENS, June 19 -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived here Thursday for an official visit, his first trip to Greece since taking office in 2013.
On his arrival at the airport, Li hailed the China-Greece ties which have come a long way since the establishment of diplomatic relations 42 years ago.
Noting the two countries have always stood firmly behind each other's core interests and major concerns, Li said he expects to consolidate political mutual trust and expand pragmatic cooperation in all areas through his visit.
The Chinese premier said he is also looking forward to promoting exchanges between the Chinese and Greek civilizations, and pushing for greater development of bilateral ties.
Li is scheduled to meet with top Greek leaders, including President Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Parliament Speaker Evangelos Vasileios Meimarakis.
During the visit, both countries are expected to sign more than 20 cooperation agreements and business contracts on trade, investment, finance, shipping, technology, culture and quality inspection, according to Chinese Ambassador to Greece Zou Xiaoli.
As a highlight of Li's visit, the two prime ministers will jointly inspect the Piraeus Container Terminal (PCT) near Athens, part of which is operated by China's state-owned shipping giant COSCO under a 35-year lease signed in 2009.
The premier will also address a forum on bilateral maritime cooperation, and deliver a speech to expound China's views on maritime issues.
Li's visit will further consolidate bilateral traditional friendship, deepen political trust and expand win-win cooperation in diversified fields, said Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao.
Greece is the second leg of Li's two-nation Europe trip, which has taken him to Britain, where he witnessed the signing of a set of cooperation deals worth over 30 billion U.S. dollars.
Li will conclude his visit on Saturday.