MALE, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived here Sunday for a state visit to Maldives, the first of its kind since the two sides established diplomatic ties 42 years ago.
Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, were welcomed by Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen and his wife at Male International Airport, as well as an enthusiastic crowd of local people dressed up in traditional costumes, holding banners and performing cheerful songs and dances.
In remarks delivered upon arrival, Xi noted that bilateral relations have been developing in a healthy and stable manner over the past 42 years and have become a model of equality and harmonious interaction between countries of different sizes.
Recalling Yameen's attendance at the opening ceremony of the second Summer Youth Olympic Games in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing last month, Xi said the trip manifested the Maldivian government and people's warm support for China.
Maldives was an important stop along the ancient Maritime Silk Road, Xi said, reiterating that Beijing welcomes Male's active participation in China's 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative.
China, he added, stands ready to make joint efforts with Maldives to further cement their traditional friendship and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation so as to achieve common development.
For his part, Yameen said the Maldivian people have been looking forward to Xi's visit, and have responded heartily to the signed article Xi published in the Maldivian media ahead of the trip.
Expressing total agreement with the proposal Xi put forward in the article on developing bilateral ties, Yameen said Xi's visit fully demonstrates that China, an influential large country, respects and attaches importance to small island countries like Maldives.
"We are deeply moved," he said. "I look forward to having in-depth exchange of views with President Xi on Maldives-China relations, so as to help turn the two countries into good friends and good partners with ever closer relations."
Maldives, an island country in the central Indian Ocean that consists of more than 1,000 isles, is the second leg of Xi's ongoing four-nation Asia trip, which will also take him to Sri Lanka and India.
Xi arrived in Male from Dushanbe, where he attended the 14th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and paid a state visit to Tajikistan.