Xi arrives in Netherlands for state visit, nuclear summit

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Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd R), his wife Peng Liyuan (L), Dutch King Willem-Alexander (R) and his wife Queen Maxima (2nd L) attend the welcoming ceremony held for the arrival of Xi and his delegation in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, March 22, 2014. Xi Jinping arrived here Saturday for a state visit to the Netherlands and a global nuclear summit. [Xinhua]

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on Saturday for a state visit to the Netherlands and a global nuclear summit.

The Netherlands is the first leg of Xi's European tour, which will also take him to France, Germany and Belgium. He will attend the third Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague on March 24-25.

Xi is the first Chinese president to visit the Netherlands since the two states established diplomatic relations in 1972. He will meet King Willem-Alexander and parliamentary leaders, and hold talks with Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The two sides will sign cooperation agreements on agriculture, energy, finance and culture.

In an arrival statement at the Schiphol International Airport, Xi extended sincere greetings and good wishes to the Dutch and the European people on behalf of the Chinese people.

Calling the Netherlands "China's important cooperation partner in Europe," Xi said "I hope that my visit will help enhance political mutual trust between China and the Netherlands, expand practical cooperation and deepen the friendship between the two peoples."

Latest statistics show that bilateral trade between China and the Netherlands reached a new high of 70.15 billion U.S. dollars in 2013, growing by 3.8 percent over the previous year.

For 11 consecutive years, the Netherlands has been China's second biggest trading partner in the European Union (EU). China has been the second biggest trading partner to the Netherlands for four consecutive years.

Hailing the strong bilateral trade ties, Rutte said in an interview with Xinhua prior to Xi's visit that the two countries "can learn a lot from each other."

Upon his arrival at the airport on Saturday, Xi also expressed his hope of meeting extensively with leaders of host European countries and EU institutions during the tour and having in-depth exchanges of views with them.

"I am ready to work with the leaders of the EU and its member states to build on past achievements for a brighter future, deepen our cooperation and upgrade China-EU relations across the board, to the benefit of the people of both China and Europe," he said.

The Chinese leader is scheduled to visit the headquarters of the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on March 27.

Xi will also visit the EU headquarters during his tour, becoming the first Chinese head of state to make such a trip since China and the EU established diplomatic ties in 1975.

"China-Europe relations are facing new opportunities as both are at the tipping point of reform and development. President Xi's visit to Europe, instilling new vitality to a long-term stable and healthy relationship, will be a milestone for both sides," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao told a news briefing in Beijing Monday.

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