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Mitsotakis Meets China's President, both Eager for Investments (Photos)

Αssociated Press

China's President Xi Jinping, centre and his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos, left, inspect the guard of honor by Evzones, the Greek Presidential guards, outside the Presidential palace in Athens, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. Xi Jinping is in Greece on a two-day official visit. (AP Photos/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping Nov. 11 met to discuss more trade and business deals with some 16 agreements expected to be signed as the two countries more closer together under the watchful eye of the European Union.

Critics fear that China is using Greece to gain a bigger foothold in the 28-country group with its shipping giant COSCO already running the key port of Piraeus and having transformed it into one of the EU's biggest and most important, a gateway to the bloc.

"My recent visit to Shanghai and yours today is inaugurating a new era in our relations, he told Xi. "I hope this visit is a milestone in the further deepening of our bilateral relations,” said Mitsotakis, reported Kathimerini as he referred to going to an international expo in China to talk business there.

Αssociated Press

Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping, right, prior to their meeting at Maximos Mansion in Athens, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. Xi Jinping is in Greece on a two-day official visit. (AP Photos/Thanassis Stavrakis)

“As you have seen in Shanghai, China is committed to an economic opening. I believe that our cooperation can lead to a combination of our capabilities,” the Chinese president responded.

"We will organise and host a year of culture and tourism between our two countries in 2021 and we want to enhance the teaching of our languages and strengthen contacts between academic communities so that we can get to know our cultures better," the President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping, said on Monday during joint statements with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

"We need to strengthen the China-EU integrated strategic relationship and the 17 + 1 mechanism. We want to demonstrate the positive synergy of our cooperation for positive growth. We have also decided to work more closely on international affairs for the multipolar world and for peace. Confucius said that virtue is not left to stand alone. And Aristotle said that the true friend is a single soul dwelling in two bodies. These things unite our two great countries: equality, mutual respect, cooperation, an open mind, inclusive growth and a determination to move forward in the future," the Chinese President concluded.

"China and Greece are natural partners for the establishment of one belt, one road. This initiative must be strengthened by the further development of your country. We look forward to implementing partnerships in many areas and we want to strengthen Piraeus's role in transit and further enhance the transport capacity of the China-Europe land-to-sea express line," the President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping said on Monday, during joint statements with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Αssociated Press

Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping, right, prior to their meeting at Maximos Mansion in Athens, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. Xi Jinping is in Greece on a two-day official visit. (AP Photos/Thanassis Stavrakis)

"We want trade to continue, an expansion of bilateral trade and mutual investments, as well as to have investments in the energy, transport and banking sectors," the Chinese President said.

They will also visit the port of Piraeus, the biggest Chinese investment in Greece and with Mitsotakis' New Democracy government approving a modified 612-million euro ($675.01 million) overhaul there after it was stymied by the former ruling anti-business Radical Left SYRIZA of then-Premier Alexis Tsipras.

Xi, who will also attend the opening of Bank of China’s first branch in the country, began his official by a customary laying of a wreath at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier on Syntagma square, where he was joined by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

Αssociated Press

File- Heading their respective delegations, China's President Xi Jinping, 3rd right, and his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos, 5th left, hold their meeting at the Presidential palace in Athens, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. Xi Jinping is in Greece on a two-day official visit. (AP Photos/Petros Giannakouris)

He was then welcomed at the Presidential Mansion by his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who visited China last May and noted that Xi’s visit “puts the seal” on bilateral relations.

“We will do our part to open China's road towards the EU,” he said, with Xi responding that he has “high expectations” for the future of Greek-Chinese relations, he said, the paper also reported.

China and Greece share rich cultures and have a long history of friendly exchanges, Xi said, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, as he added that China and Greece have long maintained a high level of development in their relations.

Αssociated Press

Heading their respective delegations, China's President Xi Jinping, 3rd right, and his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos, 5th left, hold their meeting at the Presidential palace in Athens, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. Xi Jinping is in Greece on a two-day official visit. (AP Photos/Petros Giannakouris)

Αssociated Press

China's President Xi Jinping, centre and his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos, left, inspect the guard of honor by Evzones, the Greek Presidential guards, outside the Presidential palace in Athens, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. Xi Jinping is in Greece on a two-day official visit. (AP Photos/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Αssociated Press

China's President Xi Jinping, centre and his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos, left, inspect the guard of honor by Evzones, the Greek Presidential guards, outside the Presidential palace in Athens, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. Xi Jinping is in Greece on a two-day official visit. (AP Photos/Thanassis Stavrakis)