Cuban First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel and Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a new push to longstanding bilateral relations with a meeting here Tuesday.
"We want you to feel at home," Xi told Diaz-Canel at the start of the meeting at the Great Hall of the People, which was only open to the media for a few minutes.
Joined by a large political retinue, Diaz-Canel was the first senior Cuban leader to meet with Xi since he became China's president in March.
While the officials' remarks to the media stayed within the bounds of diplomatic propriety, tangible steps to boost trade relations and other ties have been taken in recent weeks.
Indeed, Diaz-Canel and Chinese counterpart Li Yuanchao on Monday presided over the signing of several bilateral cooperation accords.
Those agreements included a donation by the Asian giant, an interest-free loan to Cuba and another credit for purchases of farm machinery and equipment.
The amounts were not disclosed.
"The two countries have learned from one another during the process of building socialism," the Chinese vice president said Monday after a meeting with his Cuban counterpart, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Diaz-Canel, for his part, said then that Cuba viewed its relations with China "from a strategic perspective" and was interested in bolstering bilateral cooperation.
Beijing's Communist Party secretary, Guo Jinlong, and Cuban President Raul Castro also met earlier this month in Havana, a sit-down that ended with the signing of cooperation accords in the areas of energy, transportation, tourism and biotechnology.
China is Cuba's second-largest trading partner with two-way trade valued at more than $2 billion in 2011, up from $590 million in 2004, according to official figures. EFE