Peru's Castillo strengthens ties with China, asks for faster vaccine supply

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FILE PHOTO: Peruvians await presidential election results

By Marco Aquino

LIMA (Reuters) - Socialist Pedro Castillo, who hopes to be confirmed as the next president of Peru, strengthened ties with China and called for accelerating the pace of supply of vaccines against COVID-19, his economic adviser Pedro Francke told Reuters. Castillo and Francke went on Thursday to the Chinese embassy in Lima, the first diplomatic headquarters to get a visit from the leftist politician after his strong showing in the June 6 election.

Peru announced in January a deal with the Chinese laboratory Sinopharm for the purchase of some 38 million doses of vaccines. The supply to the country has been taking shape little by little. This week three million doses were added to the pact. "The issue of vaccines was discussed, we want to ensure the rapid supply of vaccines because it is important for the health system and also for the country's economy," Francke told Reuters by telephone. He is expected to serve as economy minister if Castillo is confirmed as president elect.

A bid by conservative Keiko Fujimori to flip the result of Peru's June 6 presidential election looks to have run out of road, setting the stage Castillo to be confirmed as president.

China is the main buyer of Peruvian copper and other metals and minerals mines on the South American country. Castillo's meeting with Chinese Ambassador Liang Yu was depicted in a photo posted on the politician's Twitter account. The meeting was "to prioritize the ties of brotherhood and cooperation between both countries," the tweet said.

Interim president Francisco Sagasti has said that there are agreements with different laboratories to acquire 71.2 million doses in 2021.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino, writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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