China's Xi to visit Greece on way to South America

BEIJING Fri Jul 11, 2014 4:42am EDT

China's President Xi Jinping addresses the Joint Opening Session of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue known as the ''S&ED'' at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, July 9, 2014.    REUTERS/Jim Bourg

China's President Xi Jinping addresses the Joint Opening Session of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue known as the ''S&ED'' at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, July 9, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Bourg

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping will stop off in Greece on his way to South America next week, the government said on Friday, the second high-level visit to the southern European country in a month.

Xi will land on the Greek island of Rhodes on a technical stop on his way to Brazil, where he will attend the BRICS summit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a daily news briefing.

"During the stop President Xi Jinping will meet Greece's president and prime minister," Qin said, without providing details.

The Greek government said Xi would be on Rhodes on Sunday and have lunch with Greek President Karolos Papoulias.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Greece last month, where he signaled China would buy bonds when Greece issues debt again, in a show of support for a financially-stricken nation that hopes to become a gateway into Europe for Chinese products.

Bailed out twice after nearly going bankrupt, Greece is hoping Chinese investment will help spur its battered economy to growth again. China, in turn, sees Greece's strategic location as a portal into both Europe and Africa for the distribution of Chinese products.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Renee Maltezou in ATHENS; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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