China's Xi arrives in Athens to 'deepen cooperation'

Chinese President Xi Jinping touched down in Athens on Sunday, for a three-day visit looking at "a deeper cooperation with Greece in all sectors".

Xi is expected to meet President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and the two countries are due to sign cooperation documents on education, shipping and energy.

"It is our duty to steadily upgrade our cooperation in all sectors, by delving deeply into existing fields and expanding the range of investments", the Chinese president said in an article published in "Kathimerini" newspaper on Sunday.

"Relations with Greece are a priority for China," Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias told Thema radio on Thursday.

"They came and invested in Greece when others stayed away" during the crisis, Dendias said.

Xi's visit comes on the heels of a four-day trip to Shanghai by Mitsotakis earlier this week, when he led a delegation representing more than 60 businesses.

The front-page headline in pro-government newspaper "To Vima" refers to Greece's "Wedding with the Chinese Dragon" expecting a "deal signing fever in Athens".

"We have a number of important deals that open the Chinese market to Greek products," Mitsotakis told the paper in an interview published Sunday.

Greece has been building progressively closer trade relations with China for more than a decade.

The initiative started with a 2008 deal by a previous conservative government to cede container terminals at the main port of Piraeus to Chinese shipping giant Cosco.

Cosco's 600-million-euro ($660 million) investment in Piraeus deemed "the head of the Dragon" by Xi, could reach one billion euros, Mitsotakis said during his Shanghai visit.

Greece has also signed up to China's new 'Belt and Road' project, a $1-trillion global investment programme aiming to forward Chinese goods to markets further afield.


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