Greek leader stresses culture in talks with China's premier

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of economically troubled Greece met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday, hailing the contributions to global civilisation of their respective cultures.

Samaras was greeted at the Great Hall of the People with military honours that included armed guards, a marching band and a 19-gun salute.

Inside the hall, he told Li the two countries share "common culture and values" based on their "ancient civilisations".

"Both our cultures have made significant contributions to the progress of humanity and with regards to language have made great contributions to humanity," he added, according to an official Chinese translation.

Li said he expected the visit to strengthen relations. "Your visit to China will be help push forward political trust, real cooperation and cultural ties between Greece and China," he said.

Later, the leaders watched as officials from both nations signed agreements, including some maritime-related ones. Details were not immediately available.

Greece has been beset by serious economic and social woes in recent years due to mountains of public debt, forcing it to accept an international bailout.

Its economy shrank 6.4 percent in 2012 and has contracted by more than a fifth since 2008.