Premier warmly wel­comed by Fidel Cas­tro

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAOHUANXIN in Ha­vana and AN BAIJIE in Bei­jing Con­tact the writ­ers at an­bai­jie@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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 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.

ALEX CAS­TRO / AP

Premier Li Ke­qiang meets Cuba’s for­mer leader Fidel Cas­tro in Ha­vana, Cuba, on Sun­day.

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