Mexican leader to visit China, Japan

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will head to China and Japan on Wednesday on a trip aimed at deepening economic ties and widening relations with the Asia-Pacific region, the government said.

Relations with the two Asian giants are a "high priority" for Mexico and Pena Nieto will meet with China's new President Xi Jinping, Japan's Emperor Akihito and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the foreign ministry said.

The Mexican leader, who took office in December, will first visit Hong Kong for talks with the city's chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, and meetings with business leaders "to promote our country" in the financial center, the ministry said in a statement.

He will then head to the city of Sanya, on the island of Hainan, to meet with Xi for the first time.

"He will underline to him the Mexican government's interest in starting a new stage of understanding with this nation, based on trust and political dialogue at the highest level," the statement said.

In Hainan, Pena Nieto will participate in the Boao Forum For Asia, an annual gathering of political, business and academic leaders. He will deliver a speech on Latin America and hold bilateral talks with other leaders.

His next stop will be Tokyo, where he will meet with the emperor, the prime minister and legislative leaders.

Pena Nieto will meet with the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, during a Mexico-Japan Business Forum to tout his country's economy and investment potential, the foreign ministry said.

"The flow of investments is a pillar of Mexico's relations with Japan, the top investor in the country among Asian economies," it said.

A foreign ministry spokesman said Pena Nieto heads back to Mexico on April 10.

The Senate had announced the trip earlier, saying Pena Nieto would seek in China to "position Mexico as an open and reliable partner to attract investment and encourage trade."

The goal of the Japan trip, the Senate said, was to carry out a "strategy to position Mexico within the Asia-Pacific region" and "strengthen bilateral relations in the economic and political sphere."