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Naval escort fleet arrives for visit to Portugal

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-04-15 23:35

LISBON - The 13th escort taskforce of the Chinese navy arrived in Lisbon, capital of Portugal on Monday, for a five-day goodwill visit to the country.

The visit by the taskforce, composed of two missile frigates of Huangshan and Hengyang and supply ship Qinghaihu, is the second of its kind to Portugal by a Chinese naval fleet, said Li Xiaoyan, commander of the escort taskforce.

Shortly after his arrival, Li met with Portugal's high ranking navy officers and local government officials and briefed them the Chinese navy's anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia over more than four years.

During the visit, the warship open day will be held for the public and also a basketball match between Chinese and Portuguese naval officers. The taskforce will also visit an elders' house in the vicinity of Lisbon.

The visit to Portugal comes amid the Chinese navy's intensive visits to countries around the Mediterranean after its 13th escort taskforce accomplished a four-month escort mission since November last year. The taskforce had visited Malta, Algeria and Morocco and the trip will also take them to France, the last stop.

The visits are aimed at enhancing the Chinese navy's exchanges and cooperation with these countries, Li said.

Chinese warships have undertaken anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia since December 2008. To date, the Chinese navy has succeeded in escorting more than 5,000 merchant ships.

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