SHANNON, Ireland, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on Saturday arrived in Shannon, a scenic city in Ireland, kicking off his official visit to the country known as "Emerale Isle."
Xi made the visit as guest of Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.
"The main purpose of my visit is to deepen the traditional friendship between our two peoples and take bilateral relations and practical cooperation forward," Xi said in a written speech, delivered at the airport upon his arrival.
"Ireland has rich history and culture as well as amazing natural beauty. It is a success story of moving, in a short period of time, from an agro-pastoral economy to a knowledge economy," Xi said, adding that Ireland plays an active role in the European Union and international affairs.
Over the past 33 years since China and Ireland established diplomatic relations, Xi said, China-Ireland ties have progressed smoothly on the basis of mutual respect and equality, setting an example of friendly co-existence between countries different in size, social system and cultural traditions.
"China values its relations with Ireland and hopes to consolidate our traditional friendship, expand exchanges and cooperation in all fields and take our bilateral relations to a new level," he said.
During the stay, Xi will meet with Irish President Michael Higgins, hold talks with PM Kenny, and confer with other leaders of Ireland.
Ireland is the second-leg of Xi's ongoing three-nation tour. He came here after concluding his visit to the United States. He will also visit Turkey.