Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday congratulated the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) on its successful second summit and lauded its approval of a special statement on the establishment of a China-CELAC forum. In separate congratulatory messages to Raul Castro, President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers of Cuba, and Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, Xi said CELAC had played a positive role in pushing forward regional dialogue and cooperation since its inception, and the bloc's international influence had been growing. The special statement showed Latin American and Caribbean countries had common aspirations for deepening Latin America-China cooperation, Xi said. China stood ready to make concerted efforts with Latin America in actively building the forum as an important platform for the development of China-Latin America comprehensive cooperative partnership featuring equality, mutual benefit and common development, said the Chinese president. Reviewing the sound development of friendship and cooperation between China and Latin America over the past decade, the special statement highly commends the efforts of leaders on both sides in proposing the forum and approves its establishment. CELAC, established in December 2011 in Caracas, comprises 33 countries of the western hemisphere with the exception of the United States and Canada. Cuba took the bloc's rotating presidency in January 2013.