Visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday spoke highly of the rapid development of China-Costa Rica relations and pledged efforts to further expand bilateral cooperation in various fields.
Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) meets with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias(R) in San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 17, 2008. [Xinhua]
During talks with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez on the second day of his state visit to the Central American nation, Hu said mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields has been growing steadily.
Noting the fast growth in bilateral ties over the past year, the Chinese president said the two countries have also carried out fruitful cooperation in international and regional affairs.
"Facts have proven that the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Costa Rica conforms to the fundamental and long-term interests of both countries and peoples," Hu said. The two countries set up diplomatic ties in June 2007.
"The enhancement of Sino-Latin American mutually beneficial cooperation is conducive to our common development," Hu said, noting that the Chinese government has issued a Policy Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean recently.
The two countries should make efforts to push for long-term, sound and stable development of bilateral ties and cooperation, Hu said.
"China is ready to work with Costa Rica to open up a bright future for bilateral ties characterized by mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit, sincere cooperation and friendship for generations to come," he added.
On economic cooperation, Hu said the two countries should strengthen their cooperation mechanisms and expand areas of cooperation.
Hu hoped the two sides would reach agreement on a free trade pact at an early date, in the spirit of friendly consultations and mutual understanding and accommodation.
The Chinese government will continue to encourage competent Chinese enterprises to invest in Costa Rica, he said.
It will also support pragmatic cooperation between enterprises of the two countries in such key areas as infrastructure, agriculture, telecommunications and energy, he added.
Arias agreed with Hu's views and stressed the importance of strengthening trade and economic ties with China.
Costa Rica hopes to strengthen cooperation with China in port construction, development of high-tech parks as well as Chinese language teaching, he said.
Arias said he hoped the two countries would establish a dialogue mechanism at a higher level so as to further promote the development of bilateral ties.
The two leaders also exchanged views on the global financial crisis and agreed to strengthen coordination and cooperation in international affairs.
After their meeting, the two leaders witnessed the signing of 11 cooperation agreements on trade, economy, finance, energy, education and technology, and announced the launch of bilateral negotiations on a free trade pact.
China is Costa Rica's second biggest trading partner. In 2007, bilateral trade amounted to 2.8 billion U.S. dollars, a 33-percentincrease over the previous year.
Also on Monday, Hu met with Francisco Pacheco, president of the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly.
The Costa Rican legislators come from different political parties, but they have the consensus on maintaining and developing the friendship between the two countries, Hu said.
The Chinese president hoped the two countries' legislative bodies would strengthen contacts and make efforts to promote mutual understanding.
He also expressed the hope that Costa Rican legislators would play a greater role as a bridge linking up the two countries' business groups, cultural bodies, scientific institutes, news media and local governments in efforts to consolidate and expand the social foundation for the friendship between the two nations, Hu said.
Pacheco said the establishment of diplomatic ties has helped promote mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples and also created a favorable environment for strengthening bilateral economic and trade cooperation.
After the establishment of diplomatic ties with China, Costa Rica now has an "important friend and partner" in the world, he said.
Speaking at the meeting, many Costa Rican legislators from different political parties agreed that the establishment of diplomatic ties is of strategic significance. They also thanked China for providing support and help for Costa Rica in its economic and social development.
The Chinese president, who is on a five-nation tour, flew in on Sunday from Washington, where he attended a Group of 20 summit on the current international financial crisis.
This is the fist state visit by a Chinese head of state to Costa Rica and Central America.
He will also visit Cuba, Peru and Greece, and attend the Economic Leaders' Informal Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in the Peruvian capital of Lima.
(Xinhua News Agency November 18, 2008)