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China providing financial support for Cuba reforms

HAVANA--Cuba and China strengthened their political and economic alliance Sunday by signing 10 new cooperation agreements that will provide Havana with much needed financial support to implement its plan of economic reforms.

The accords were signed in the presence of Cuban President Raul Castro and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.

The agreements "reflect the political will of both parties and governments to continue deepening their ties," an official Cuban announcement said.

The agreements call for a new line of credit for Cuba and the restructuring of two others. They also include a donation and a loan that will be used to modernized the Cuban public health system.

However, reports by Cuban official media did not disclose the amounts of money involved.

China will also help Cuba modernize an oil refinery in the southeastern city of Cienfuegos, build a new liquid gas plant and improve the city port.

Xi arrived in Havana from Italy on Saturday on the first leg of a Latin America tour that will also take him to Uruguay and Chile.

During their meeting, Xi and Castro noted "an excellent state of bilateral relations and exchanged their views on the situation around the world," according to the Cuban announcement.

Xi was the first Chinese leader to visit Cuba after a Communist Party congress in April approved a package of more than 300 reforms aimed at making Cuba's centralized economy more efficient.

The Chinese vice president said after his arrival that the Cuban party congress had "determined the course of the country's future development" and laid the foundation of "future successes in the process of building socialism" on the island.

According to China's Xinhua news agency, Xi also said that the China-Cuba friendship meets the common aspiration of the two peoples, adding that the two countries were determined to expand their consensus, enhance friendship and deepen cooperation for common development.

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