Chinese hospital vessel the Arch of Peace (He Ping Fang Zhou) docked at Venezuela's La Guaira port on Saturday to carry out health operations in conjunction with the Bolivarian National Armed Force (FANB).
"The first thing we must emphasize is (the vessel's) name. It is a vessel for peace, and peace is fostered in the world through cooperative and diplomatic ties," said Venezuelan Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez.
"This is the result of the efforts made by (Venezuelan President) Nicolas Maduro in building the relationship between the People's Republic of China and Venezuela...We applaud the reception of this vessel as a gesture of friendship and cooperation...The center of this visit is in the exchange of knowledge."
Lopez went on to note that the arrival of the He Ping Fang Zhou "is also a defensive operation, as the vessel is part of an exercise involving military hospitals in the country held this Saturday." Venezuela should also deepen military ties with China, he said.
Personnel aboard the He Ping Fang Zhou have come to Venezuela as part of a medical exchange as part of the Combined Comprehensive Strategic Operation for the defense and sovereignty of the South American country. The ship will remain in Venezuela for a week.
Venezuela's health sector finds itself under strain from the country's economic recession, as well as from international financial sanctions that obstruct vital medical imports.
The arrival of the vessel is part of the 28 cooperation agreements signed between Venezuela and China during Maduro's official visit to the Asian country last week. He described that visit as being a "success" and said he is willing to learn from China in order to help improve the economic recovery efforts taking place in Venezuela.
"It is a golden opportunity that we have today. I have great expectations. I am willing to learn to perfect the path that Venezuela has taken and achieve what is most important for the years to come: an economic revolution that will free the productive forces of the country and successfully create real wealth for the general happiness of our people," the Venezuelan president said.
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