China’s President Xi Jinping has arrived in Zimbabwe, making him the most prominent global leader in many years to visit the country.
The two nations had a “deep and firm” friendship, Mr Xi said in an article in Zimbabwe’s state-run Herald newspaper.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has strongly pursued a “Look East” policy since the West isolated him over his controversial land reform programme.
China is major investor in Zimbabwe, helping to keep its economy afloat
The BBC’s Brian Hungwe in the capital, Harare, says President Mugabe was at the airport to welcome the Chinese leader, who received a 21-gun salute before inspecting a guard of honour.
Chinese nationals, waving both Zimbabwean and Chinese flags, were also there to welcome Mr Xi.
The two governments are expected to sign agreements to boost Zimbabwe’s agriculture, mining and manufacturing sectors.
Mr Xi, who is on his first visit to Zimbabwe, said it remained a cornerstone of China’s foreign policy to consolidate its relationship with Zimbabwe and other African states.
“This will never change,” he added.
Mr Xi and a large Chinese delegation will fly to South Africa on Wednesday, where he will attend the first China-Africa summit to be held in Africa. It is expected to be attended by leaders from across the continent.