San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Chinese president visits Costa Rica

Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to sign 11 accords with President Oscar Arias today in the first visit by a Chinese head of state to Central America.

Hu arrived at Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela, northwest of San José, yesterday afternoon, with his wife, Liu Yongqing, and a sizable delegation. His agenda today includes a private meeting with Arias, followed by a press conference where he will sign accords and make a statement to the press but take no questions. He will then meet with lawmakers, visit the National Museum and eat lunch with Arias at the National Theater in downtown San José.

“Costa Rica is a country with weight in Central America and a notable partner for China in the region,” Hu said in a written statement. “I´m confident that… this visit will strengthen the friendship, mutual trust and colaboration” between the two nations.

Hu is expected to announce the opening of a Confucius Institute at the University of Costa Rica (UCR) to spread Chinese language and culture. Other accords will address negotiations for a free-trade agreement; China´s $83 million investment in a new national stadium here; and efforts by the China National Petroleum Corp. to help Costa Rica modernize its national oil refinery.

“This is a historic visit,” said Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno, who greeted Hu at the airport. “Everyone has their eyes on China now because… the country will probably lead the world out of this recession, or depression, and (China) can certainly be a great help to developing countries.”

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