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President Hu visits Cuban leader Fidel Castro
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Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday visited Fidel Castro, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, in Havana.
Watch President Hu Jintao visit Cuban leader Fidel Castro

The two leaders warmly shook hands, exchanged greetings and had a long conversation in a sincere and friendly atmosphere.

Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) visits Fidel Castro, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, in Havana, capital of Cuba, Nov. 18, 2008. [Xinhua Photo]

Hu said he was delighted to see Castro again. The comrades of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China "have all cared about your health and I brought their sincere greetings to you," he said.

"I see in person that you have recovered and have been energetic so I feel very pleased," he told Castro.

Castro extended a warm welcome to Hu for his second state visit to Cuba. "We are old friends. I am happy to see that you are as energetic as when I met you last time," he said.

Hu said that as the founder of the Cuban socialist revolution and construction, Castro is dearly adored by the Cuban people. During the past half century, Castro led the heroic Cuban people in their fearless struggle to safeguard state sovereignty and adhere to the path of socialism, thus winning respect from people worldwide, including the Chinese people.

Hu said that Castro has followed closely his country's development, showed great concern about people's life and dedicated himself to profound reflections of major strategic issues, such as international affairs and national development.

"Your thoughts and experience will surely guide the Cuban people in continuing their march on the road of socialist construction," he said.

On Sino-Cuban relations, Hu said relations between the two countries have withstood the changes of international situation thanks to the joint efforts to forge and nurture their bilateral ties by generations of Chinese leaders, including Mao Zedong, DengXiaoping and Jiang Zemin, and Castro and other Cuban leaders.

"The brotherly friendship between our two countries and two parties has been deeply rooted in the hearts of our two peoples," he said.

"The Chinese people will never forget that thanks to your concern and effort that Cuba became the first Latin American nation to forge diplomatic ties with China 48 years ago," he said.

Thanks to the concerted efforts of both sides, the Sino-Cuban mutually beneficial and friendly cooperation in all areas have been expanding continuously, and bilateral ties have entered a new era of all-round development, said Hu.

"Our two nations, parties and peoples have become reliable friends and brothers who share weal and woe," he said.

"What affected me and other Chinese leaders most is that you always pay close attention to China's development and remain committed to promoting friendly cooperation between our two countries," Hu added.

Hu noted that Castro ordered to send a medical team to China immediately after the devastating earthquake in Wenchuan, southwest China's Sichuan province on May 12.

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The Cuban leader also made constant phone calls to offer instructions on the team's work in China, Hu added.

Moreover, in his article entitled China's Victory, Castro has showed his firm support for China on such major issues as Taiwan, Tibet and the Olympic Games in Beijing, the Chinese president said.

The Cuban leader has also showed great concern about the Chinese students studying in Cuba and the progress of a joint ophthalmic hospital. "The Chinese people, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government will for ever remember all these," he said.

Castro expressed appreciation of China's relief and reconstruction efforts following the Wenchuan earthquake and other natural disasters. He once again congratulated China on its successful hosting of the Beijing Olympic Games and Paralympics as well as the success of the Shenzhou-7 manned space mission.

Hu said that the Chinese government will always adhere to the principle of long-term friendship between China and Cuba. The Chinese people will, as always, support the just struggle of the Cuban people in safeguarding state sovereignty and opposing outside interference.

China will continue to provide assistance for Cuba within its capacity, and will firmly support the country's socialist cause, he said.

"We will work with the Cuban people to continuously push forward the development of friendship between China and Cuba," he added.

Castro said he and other Cuban comrades have followed closely "everything that happened in China."

"China has a large population and a culture of long standing and the Chinese people are known for their diligence," he said, adding that the Chinese people "have surmounted all manner of unimaginable difficulties and accomplished great achievements in construction."

"As the current international financial crisis is spreading, the Chinese economy has kept a sound momentum for development, demonstrating that China is the most prepared country," he said.

China is the most dynamic nation in the world and "no force can stop it from forging ahead," he said.

The two leaders also exchanged views on the two countries' economic development and major international and regional issues, including the international financial crisis and the world economy.

Before the conclusion of the meeting, Hu again expressed his heartfelt wish for Castro's good health. Castro, in return, expressed his gratitude.

Cuba is the third leg of Hu's five-nation trip. He has attended a Group of 20 summit on the financial crisis in Washington and visited Costa Rica.

He will also visit 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 19, 2008)

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