Panama's president to travel to China to meet Xi Jinping

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York, U.S., September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz (Reuters)

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - Panama's President Juan Carlos Varela will travel to China to meet with his counterpart Xi Jinping on Friday, the first official visit by a Panamanian leader to the Asian country coming five months after the nations established diplomatic relations. The bilateral meeting will serve to "establish a new economic, trade, tourist and diplomatic outlook for the country, leading to more than a dozen agreements that will be signed" between nations, Panama's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. In June, Panama upgraded its commercial ties with China and established full diplomatic links with the second most important customer of its key shipping canal, giving Beijing a major victory as it broke formal relations with Taiwan. The Foreign Ministry said the agreements will provide the basis for attracting investments and Chinese innovation to Panama, and help boost Panamanian exports, tourism and the use of the Panama canal. Varela will inaugurate Panama's first embassy in China. (Reporting by Elida Moreno; Writing by Anthony Esposito; editing by Diane Craft)