Maduro seals ‘fly me to the Moon’ pact with Xi

Maduro arrived in Beijing on Tuesday after a tour of Shanghai and other Chinese cities © ZURIMAR CAMPOS / Venezuelan Presidency/AFP
Maduro arrived in Beijing on Tuesday after a tour of Shanghai and other Chinese cities © ZURIMAR CAMPOS / Venezuelan Presidency/AFP

The first Venezuelan Moon walker is in the making as its president, Nicolas Maduro has sealed a scientific cooperation deal with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Maduro announced during his meeting with Xi on Wednesday that the two countries had agreed to train young Venezuelan astronauts in China, with plans to eventually send them to the Moon. On Thursday, he hailed the agreement.

In a video posted Thursday on social media, Maduro said: "Where we're heading is for the Moon, to a splendid era for China and Venezuela."

A special task team "on scientific, technological, industrial and aerospace cooperation will sooner rather than later (send) the first Venezuelan man and woman to the moon in a Chinese spacecraft," the Venezuelan leader said.

"Very soon, Venezuelan youth will come here to prepare as astronauts in Chinese schools," he added.

China is pursuing plans to send a crewed mission to the Moon by 2030 and build a base there.

The world's second-largest economy has invested billions of dollars in its military-run space program in a push to catch up with the United States and Russia.

China maintains close relations with the internationally isolated Maduro government and is one of Venezuela's main creditors.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday as he wrapped up his China trip, Maduro showed off two gifts from Xi, including a Huawei folding mobile phone.

"It is the most secure phone, impossible to break into," he said.

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