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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference On 5 February, 2004

On the afternoon of February 5, 2004, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhang Qiyue held the regular press conference.

Zhang Qiyue: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As I have no announcement to make, the floor is now open for questions.

Q: Weapons of mass destruction have not been found in Iraq so far. What is your comment on the significance and justifiability of the war on Iraq?

A: We have made clear our position on Iraq for many times. China's position remains unchanged both before and after the war. It is our view that despite the complexity of international affairs, problems should be solved peacefully through political and diplomatic means. We don't agree to the use of force in international affairs.

Q: It is said that the Chinese embassy reactivation group is going to Iraq on February 15. Would you please confirm this information? How is the Embassy preparation work going? What areas are they going to work on? What role will China play as the Rotating President of the UN Security Council this moth? What will the UNSC discuss during this month?

A: The Chinese embassy reactivation group will go to Iraq shortly. Headed by Chargé d'Affaires ad Interim Sun Bigan, this group is composed of officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce. They will make preparations for resuming all the Embassy work after arriving in Iraq.

They will have extensive contact with the Iraqi Interim Governing Council, the interim authorities and UN officials. As China and Iraq enjoy traditional friendship, we hope that these contacts will help further develop China-Iraq bilateral relations and the traditional friendship between the two peoples.  They will also try to safeguard China's rights and interests in Iraq in various aspects and help the Chinese people including Chinese companies there to take part in the reconstruction of Iraq. China has adopted a positive attitude towards peace, stability and reconstruction of Iraq.

As for your second question, China is the Rotating President of the UN Security Council in February. During this month, the Security Council will review such issues as Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Kosovo and the Middle East. In the principles of "pragmatism, efficiency, fairness and transparency", China will maintain close contact with other UNSC members and the Secretariat so as to jointly help make positive progress in solving the above-mentioned issues and safeguard the role and authority of the United Nations, particularly the UN Security Council.

Q: We were told that some journalists' requests to cover those bird flu affected areas were turned down last week. Why are these journalists not able to go there for coverage?

A: Bird flu epidemic has broken out in some parts of China. Both the Chinese and the resident foreign press are very keen on it and have made enormous coverage. As far as I know, some foreign journalists' applications have been approved by some local authorities and they have already made on-site interviews. If the channel for applying for interviews does not function well, you may file your applications to the Information Office of the State Council and the International Press Centre of my ministry. We will help you with your interviews.

Q: India and Pakistan have decided to resume dialogues next week. Pakistan believes that Kashmir is the hurdle for the normalization of India-Pakistan relations. What's your comment?

A: China welcomes the announcement made by India and Pakistan to resume dialogues. As their common neighbours and friends, China wishes to see improved relations between them. China hopes that India and Pakistan will keep the momentum going and solve their differences through dialogue so as to further develop their relations. This is in the interest of not only India, Pakistan and other South Asian countries but also the rest of Asia and the world at large.

Q: When is the Chinese Embassy reactivation group planning to go to Iraq? China announced the date of the second round of six-party talks this Tuesday. What does China hope to benefit from these talks? Apart form maintaining peace and stability on the Peninsula, does China wish to play a bigger role in the international arena through these talks?

A: The Chinese Embassy reactivation group will go to Iraq shortly, but the specific date is yet to be finalized.

On 2 February, I was authorized to announce that the second round of the six-party talks would be held in Beijing starting from 25 February. China's basic position on the DPRK nuclear issue is to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, safeguard the denuclearization of the Peninsula and at the same time address the rational security concerns of the DPRK. We hope to see the peaceful settlement of relevant issues through dialogue. As a matter of fact, China has made frequent and numerous diplomatic maneuverings in the past period of time and helped promote peaceful talks. It is fair to say that China has done loads of work in various sectors and at various levels. For example, the Chinese top leaders have worked directly on leaders of the countries concerned and the leaders and staff of the Foreign Ministry have done lots of hard work. I have learned that there have been about 60 consultations at the working level in the past couple of months. All these consultations and meeting are very important. President Hu Jintao met with the US President Bush and the South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun for exchanges of views on the DPRK nuclear issue on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Bangkok at the end of last year. At the end of October last year, NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo paid a visit to the DPRK. In November, Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited the US. I want to use these examples to illustrate that China has carried out intensive diplomatic activities in the past few months. And China has no private interests in this process. What we want to see is the settlement of the DPRK nuclear issue and maintenance of peace and stability on the Peninsula. As an important country in Asia and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has played a positive and constructive role in international affairs in a responsible manner. In the future, China will continue to play a positive role in promoting the peaceful settlement of conflicts in the world.

Q: What is China's attitude towards the Interim Governing Council of Iraq? Have you had official contact with the Council? Do you have new policies for the Iraqi Embassy in China?

A: China has been following the situation in Iraq closely. We stress that the Iraqi people should play an independent role and they are capable of running their own affairs well. We hope that "Iraqi people governing Iraq" will be realized at an early date. In the meantime, the United Nations should play an important role in helping Iraq embark on the road of stability, peace and development.

China and the Iraqi Interim Governing Council have maintained contact. For instance, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing met with the Rotating President of the Iraqi Interim Governing Council on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last year.

Our policy towards the Iraqi Embassy in China remains unchanged.

Q: Has the program for the second round of six-party talks been finalized?

A: The program is yet to be decided after consultation among all parties concerned.

Q: Do you mind introducing the members of delegations attending the second round of six-party talks, particularly members of the DPRK delegation?

A: I have no idea about the members of other delegations. The Chinese delegation will be headed by Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Q: Is there any plan for a briefing before the second round of six-party talks kick off?

A: The Chinese side will set up an information centre before the second round of six-party talks kick off. Just like the first round, we will update you with specific information of the talks through this centre and make arrangements for your interviews.

Q: You mentioned that China would take part in the reconstruction of Iraq. Does China have any plan to start working before the Iraqi people take over power in June?

A: Just now I briefed you on China's principled position on the reconstruction of Iraq. It is our view that reconstruction is crucial after peace and stability is restored in Iraq as it bears on the long-term and fundamental interests of the Iraqi people. We provided 25 million US dollars to Iraq for its reconstruction at the donors' conference in Madrid, Spain not long ago from the humanitarian perspective. All this is the share of contribution China has made to the reconstruction of Iraq. Some Chinese companies and people have gone to Iraq already. Our Embassy reactivation group will work hard to safeguard the rights and interests of China and the Chinese people in Iraq. The Chinese Foreign Ministry and its staff will try their best to provide help whenever they can.

Q: You said that China pledged 25 million US dollars to Iraq at the Madrid conference. Has China written off the debts owned to China by the former Iraqi regime? If yes, what is the size of the debt? Can you tell us what areas China is planning to participate in the reconstruction program?

A: The Chinese leaders and the competent authorities have announced the decision to write off considerable amounts of Iraqi debts to China, but the specific size or proportion is still under calculation and further study. China is also a developing country. The reason why China does so is that China fully understands the difficulties in the reconstruction of Iraq and the  predicament of Iraqi people. We hope that the Iraqi people will embark on the road of stability, peace and development as early as possible.

The reconstruction of Iraq is yet to start. China believes it is very important and requires joint efforts of the international community. The United Nations should play an important role and all countries should take part in this process.

Q: Would you please be specific in the areas that China wishes to take part in Iraqi reconstruction? Are they telecommunications, building roads or other areas?

A: China will take an active part in the reconstruction of Iraq.

If there are no more questions, that's all for today's press conference. Thank you.


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