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China wants to invest in Greece

Friday, June 20 17:55:21

China wants to invest in Greece's airports, railways and its busiest port, the two countries said today, as the country where the euro debt crisis began seeks a role as China's gateway into Europe.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is on a three-day trip to Greece to strengthen economic ties between the nations, who have drawn closer since China's Cosco Pacific won a 35-year concession in 2009 to upgrade and run two container cargo piers at the Piraeus port.

Greece, which relies on bailout loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, desperately needs foreign investment to spur growth and create jobs as it struggles to exit a six-year recession.

China - which has already submitted a bid to buy a majority stake in Piraeus - is also eyeing the construction of an 800 million-euro airport in Crete and the main airport in Athens when the government puts it on sale later this year, Greek officials said. Development Minister Nikos Dendias said the two sides also discussed a high-speed rail project.

"China attaches great importance to Greece's unique geographic advantage of being a gateway to Europe and, in that light, is prepared to intensify its cooperation with Greece in basic infrastructure such as ports, roads, (and) railways," the two governments said in a joint statement.

Both sides have sought to play up Greece's strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa, saying the country could become a hub for channelling goods from the world's second-largest economy and top exporter into Europe.(Reuters)