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Students line up to welcome Peng Liyuan (center), wife of President Xi Jinping, during her visit to the Hungarian-Chinese bilingual school in Budapest on Thursday. YUE YUEWEI/XINHUA

Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping, visited the Hungarian-Chinese bilingual school and the Buda Castle in Budapest on Thursday, where she called for closer people-to-people exchanges and stronger friendship between China and Hungary.

Accompanied by Aniko Levai, wife of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Peng watched classes on Chinese language and traditional Chinese culture such as paper cutting and calligraphy, and had cordial exchanges with students at the bilingual school.

The school is a symbol of friendship between China and Hungary, Peng said, adding that she was pleased to see the students speak Chinese very well.

Peng said she hopes the students will work hard to learn Chinese language and culture, and have opportunities to visit or study in China to carry forward bilateral friendship.

Peng and Levai watched a video showing the development of the school over the past two decades, as well as dances, poem recitals and chorus performances by the students, and took pictures with them.

Peng presented the school with books about Chinese culture before she left.

Founded in 2004, the 12-grade public school, which teaches in both Chinese and Hungarian, has enjoyed friendly exchanges with Xi that go back more than a decade.

During Xi's visit to the school in 2009, students there greeted him with Chinese written on the blackboard, and performed Chinese songs, ballet dances and martial arts.

Last year, Xi replied to a letter written by two students in the school. Xi welcomed them to pursue higher education in China, and said he hopes more and more young people in Hungary will learn Chinese, visit China and become envoys of bilateral friendship.

The two students are now studying in a university in Beijing.

Peng also visited Buda Castle with Zsuzsanna Nagy, wife of Hungarian President Tamas Sulyok, on Thursday morning.

The two first ladies appreciated the exhibition of Hungarian Herend porcelain and traditional embroidery craftsmanship.

Peng said she was impressed by the exquisite Hungarian porcelain and superb embroidery craftsmanship.

Porcelain and embroidery are the common symbols shared by Chinese and Hungarian civilizations, Peng said, adding that she looks forward to strengthened exchanges and mutual learning between artists of the two countries to promote cultural integration.

Peng and Nagy were briefed on the restoration of the castle's Szent Istvan Hall. Peng commended the exquisite restoration skills of Hungarian experts, and said she hopes China and Hungary will strengthen cooperation in the conservation and restoration of cultural relics.

Having tea with Nagy, Peng said Hungary is a beautiful country with warm and hospitable people. The cultures of China and Hungary share many similarities, Peng said, adding that the two peoples enjoy affinity toward each other, and that the friendship between the two countries has a strong foundation.

Peng said she hopes the bilateral friendship will be carried forward and get ever stronger as time goes by.

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