The first visit of a Chinese Head of State in a decade

Xi Jinping and his wife on arrival in Italy

Xi Jinping and his wife on arrival in Italy

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Rome on Thursday for a state visit to Italy to plan the future of relations between the two countries.

It is the first visit of a Chinese head of state to Italy in 10 years. Two Italian jets escorted Xi's plane as he entered the country's airspace.

Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, were greeted at the airport by top officials of the Italian government. In a speech made upon arrival, Xi said China-Italy relations have stood the test of time and international vicissitudes since the two countries established diplomatic ties 49 years ago.

Defending the principle of mutual respect, trust and benefits, China and Italy have constantly promoted their friendship and cooperation, setting an example of the development of bilateral ties between two countries of different social systems, cultural contexts and stages of development, said the chief of Chinese State.

Practical cooperation between the two countries has yielded fruitful results, bringing tangible benefits to the two peoples, said Xi, adding that bilateral cultural and interpersonal exchanges are rich, and that mutual understanding and friendship have been strengthened.

The Chinese President said he looks forward to meeting with the Italian leaders to jointly chart the plan for the future development of bilateral relations. "I believe with the joint efforts of both sides, the China-Italy comprehensive strategic partnership will enjoy a better tomorrow," said Xi Jinping.

Italy is the first stopover of Xi Jinping's trip to three European nations, which will also take him to the state of Monaco and France.