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• Pre­mier Li vis­its the Acrop­o­lis in Athens with Greek Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras • In­spects Pi­raeus Port • Speaks at the China-Greece Mar­itime Co­op­er­a­tion Fo­rum • Meets and dines with Greek Pres­i­dent Karo­los Papou­lias • Vis­its the Na­tional Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Mu­seum • Leaves Athens for Crete, the big­gest Greek is­land co­op­er­a­tion on eco­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion, re­source ex­ploita­tion and ma­rine sur­veys.

Sa­ma­ras said that since his visit, China and Greece have pro­gressed on in­fra­struc­ture co­op­er­a­tion and Li’s visit will ac­cel­er­ate this process.

“We be­gan a closer work­ing re­la­tion­ship last year, and it seems that we are ad­vanc­ing on projects mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial to both of us and ben­e­fi­cial for both China and the Euro­pean Union as a whole.”

Sa­ma­ras said Greece is best po­si­tioned to be the “gate­way” to Europe for in­ter­na­tional trade with the Far East and Mid­dle East, but this re­quires in­vest­ment in a num­ber of in­fra­struc­ture ar­eas, in­clud­ing ma­jor ports, high­ways and rail­ways.

He said Greece has seen a “break­through” in the port of Pi­raeus, where the pi­o­neer­ing in­vest­ment by COSCO in 2009 has proved a big suc­cess.

For in­vestors, he said a num­ber of pri­va­ti­za­tion schemes in Greece are can­di­dates for the “next con­crete steps”, in­clud­ing rail­way projects and air­port hubs.

“We have al­ready made a good start with Pi­raeus. Now there are plans to ex­pand in many di­rec­tions.”

Sa­ma­ras said both coun­tries have iden­ti­fied a num­ber of ar­eas of mu­tual in­ter­est and have an on­go­ing process for dis­cussing spe­cific in­vest­ment plans and trade agree­ments.

“We are mov­ing step by step, but we are mak­ing tan­gi­ble progress and we are build­ing a solid re­la­tion­ship with enor­mous prospects for both coun­tries,” he said.

Sa­ma­ras said ship­build­ing is an­other area of mu­tual in­ter­est, along with the mar­itime in­dus­try in gen­eral, with 15 per­cent of global sea trade con­ducted by ves­sels un­der Greek own­er­ship.

“And tourism, of course, is an area of co­op­er­a­tion that is al­ready ex­pand­ing, with a very high po­ten­tial.”

He said Greece is the home of the “Mediter­ranean diet”, and a range of Greek agri­cul­tural prod­ucts raw, pro­cessed and man­u­fac­tured can be in­tro­duced to the Chi­nese mar­ket. These in­clude ex­tra vir­gin olive oil, feta cheese, “ex­cel­lent” wines and var­i­ous herbal prod­ucts.

Sa­ma­ras, who was born in 1951, will mark the sec­ond an­niver­sary of his tak­ing of­fice on Fri­day, when he will be joined by Li.

Sa­ma­ras said sev­eral coun­tries had stood by Greece dur­ing the dif­fi­cult times af­ter the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis. “China was one of them. I can­not ex­press how much we ap­pre­ci­ate that and how grate­ful we are,” he said.

Con­tact the writ­ers at xingzhi­gang@chi­ and fu­jing@chi­

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