Panama will deploy 2,500 agents to guard Xi during historic visit

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  • Sun, 12/02/2018 - 09:25
Panama will deploy 2,500 agents to guard Xi during historic visit
  • EFE

Panama will be reinforced during the next historic visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and will deploy around 2,500 agents in the capital between December 2 and 3 to ensure the safety of the president, informed the Panamanian authorities today.

The operation, dubbed "Red Flag", will begin on Sunday afternoon when Xi is scheduled to land in Tocumen, the country's main airport and an important terminal for connections in the region, Panamanian security authorities explained at a press conference on Friday.

The plan includes the closure of some of the capital's main arteries to facilitate the transfer of the governor to the various events scheduled, and the deployment of 2,500 agents along that route, said the National Deputy Director of Traffic Operations the National Police, Simón Enríquez.

The Chinese president will stay at a hotel on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, in an area known as Veracruz, which is accessed by crossing one of the two bridges over the Panama Canal, which will also remain partially closed, the commissioner added.

Xi will arrive in Panama on Sunday, after participating in the G20 summit in Argentina, but his official agenda will not begin until Monday, when he will meet with his Panamanian counterpart, Juan Carlos Varela.

It is the first official trip of a Chinese president to Panama after the Central American country established diplomatic relations with China in June 2017 and broke the ties with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a rebel province.

The Panamanian Government also announced on Friday that the public offices of the metropolitan area will close their doors on December 3 at noon to lighten traffic.

"We apologize for any inconvenience that security operations may cause, and invite all Panamanians to witness a new historic step that we trust will benefit the entire country," said the Minister of the Presidency, Jorge González.

During his visit to Panama, Xi will also hold a meeting with businessmen, will meet with the Chinese community established in the Central American country and will tour the interoceanic canal, through which 6 percent of world trade passes.

It is expected that Panama and China, which are in full negotiations for the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA), sign a score of agreements on cooperation, tourism, training, language, agriculture or visa flexibility.

These agreements will be added to another twenty agreements signed last year, when Varela made a state trip to Beijing.

China has a significant presence in Panama, as it is the second user of the Panama Canal, behind the United States, and the first supplier of the Colon Free Zone, the largest free zone in the hemisphere, located in the Panamanian Caribbean.

Chinese companies, moreover, have recently won billionaire dollar tenders to build a kilometric bridge over the Panama Canal and a cruise terminal. 


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