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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Kong Quan's Press Conference on April 20, 2004

Kong: Good afternoon, everybody. I'll begin with several announcements.

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zouriabichvili will pay an official visit to China between April 25 and 29, and attend the 60th Session of the ESCAP to be held in Shanghai.

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Dr. Hassan Wirajuda, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Indonesia will visit China from April 27 to May 1. Prior to the visit, he will attend the 60th Session of the ESCAP to be held in Shanghai.

At the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao, Hon.Dr.Robert Woonton, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands will pay an official visit to China from April 24 to May 1.

At the invitation of Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Gerhard Schroeder, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt, President of European Commission Romano Prodi, Prime Minister of the Republic of Italy Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Tony Blair and Prime Minister of Ireland Bertie Ahern, Premier Wen Jiabao will pay an official visit to the above mentioned countries and the headquarters of the European Union between May 2 and 12.

With that, I'm happy to take your questions.

Q: The Chinese Embassy in Canada said that any official meeting between the Canadian side and Dalai would undermine Sino-Canadian relationship. But the Canadian Prime Minister said that he would meet him late this week. What's your comment? What results do you perceive?

A: I've briefed you on our position on last week's press conference. Dalai is a political exile engaging in separating the nation and undermining ethnic unity instead of a common religious figure. I don't hope to see the Canadian Government grant platform for such a political exile, a national separatist when Sino-Canadian relationship is developing smoothly. We have also taken note of the remarks of Canada, hoping that Canada could seriously consider China's position and change its erroneous practice.

Q: The Spanish Prime Minister has officially declared to withdraw from Iraq. Some other countries are also considering reducing troops there. What's your comment?

A: I have taken note of the recent decision made by the Spanish Prime Minister. I don't have any special comment since it's a decision made by the Spanish Government itself. But I would like to reiterate the position of the Chinese Government on the current Iraqi situation. We are deeply concerned with and worried about the acutely deteriorating situation, security situation in particular. We hope to see a stabilized and secure Iraq. The restoration of Iraq's sovereignty and the realization of "Iraqi people governing Iraq" rely on a secure Iraq, which is also the necessary guarantee for the UN to play an important role in the Iraqi peace process.

Q: Can you update us on the details of Kim Jung Il's visit to Beijing? If you can't, will you tell us what information will China convey to him and DPRK on the Six-party talks?

A: As friendly neighbours, China and DPRK maintain the tradition of exchange of high-level visits between the two parties and governments. In recent years, the tradition has been enhanced and strengthened. It's fair to say that leaders of the two countries have always exchanged views through various channels on issues of common interest, including enhancing bilateral ties and cooperation in all fields. They have also had many opportunities to have in-depth exchanges of views on regional and major international issues of common interest.

Q: If there's close contact between the two countries and two parties, why the traditional friendship turns to be so secretive? Please brief us on Wu Yi's trip to the US and the progress the JCCT has made?

A: It's very important for both parties and leaders of both countries to maintain contact and communication and exchange views on major international issues and bilateral issues through various channels. The communication and contact has been conducted in a way that suits both sides.

The upcoming 15th meeting of the JCCT is its first after the committee was upgraded. Both China and the US have attached importance to it. Vice Premier Wu Yi left Beijing yesterday for the US. She will host the meeting with Secretary of Commerce Evans and Trade Representative Zoellick on 21. Both sides will have in-depth exchange of views in the one-day meeting. There are many common interests between China and the US in developing mutually beneficiary commerce and trade, which is developing very rapidly with over 126 billion US dollars' trade volume last year. The first quarter of this year witnesses the same strong momentum with the increase of US export to China exceeding the average growth of import across the nation. If I remember correctly, the import growth of the whole nation is 42% as against 52% increase of our import from the US. During the meeting, both sides will also discuss about each other's concerns. The US has its concerns. We have ours too, including those repeatedly mentioned matters such as the US restriction on its export of hi-tech products to China and China's exported products under investigation in the US. The purpose of JCCT is to have in-depth exchange of views, broaden consensus and narrow differences so as to jointly promote the development of mutually beneficiary economic cooperation and trade. We'll brief you on the meeting in due course after it concludes.

Q: Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will be visiting Russia. Please brief us on his visit and its significance to the enhancement of Sino-Russian relations.

A: Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing's upcoming visit to Russia is of great significance. Sino-Russian strategic partnership coordination has been developing very rapidly. The exchanges and cooperation in various fields have been expanding and enhancing. Political mutual-trust has also been consolidated. Given this backdrop, with the new government and new Foreign Minister of Russia going into office in particular, Foreign Minister Li's visit will help him establish close contact and develop personal relationship with his counterpart on a new basis so as to promote development of the strategic partnership and coordination. Following this visit, there will be a series of important two-way high-level visits, exchanges and cooperation in various fields. We have full confidence in further developing friendly relations and cooperation as well as the prospect of the bilateral ties.

Q: Russia and France have urged the UN Security Council to adopt a new resolution on Iraq. Have they informed China of it? Secondly, China and many countries have condemned Israeli's assassination of Ratisi. The UN is discussing the matter but Sharon insisted on carrying out assassination. Does China believe it necessary to take more practical steps more than condemnation? My third question is, is Russian Defense Minister among the high-ranking officials visiting China?

A: UN Special Envoy to Iraq, Mr. Brahimi made another trip to Iraq and submitted a report to the Security Council on the Iraqi situation and other related issues. China appreciates the efforts of him and his team. As the next step, the UN Security Council will discuss the matter. As a permanent member of the Security Council, China follows closely the Iraqi question and has participated in the discussion actively in a constructive manner. We should pay special attention to listening to and pooling the consensus among various levels and forces inside Iraq on the transitional mechanism and electoral arrangement. China will maintain close consultation with relevant countries and make its own contribution for the relaxation of the situation and the realization of "Iraqi people governing Iraq" at an early date to facilitate Iraq's peaceful reconstruction.

After Israel's assassination of Ratisi, the Chinese Government expressed immediately its strong condemnation. We have always held that targeted cleansing is unable to solve any question. When the current tensions in the Middle East are deteriorating, it's imperative for relevant parties to put an end to the trade of violence, exercise restraint and return to the process of peace talks. The international community should increase its input to promote the peace process.

Russian Defense Minister Ivanov was invited by Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan to visit China from April 20 to 22. Leaders of the Government and military will have talks with him. Their discussions will include military exchanges, bilateral ties, regional and international issues and other issues of common interest.

Q: When will the first meeting of the working group of the Six-party talks be held? There're speculations that the third round of the talks might be postponed. Are you confident that the talks will be held on schedule?

A: I believe we should have confidence in it. The Six-party talks have set up a mechanism for addressing the Korean nuclear question peacefully. Various parties have exchanged views on some key matters. The mechanism is not only helpful but also necessary. China has maintained close contact with the other five parties and put forth a conceptual paper for the working group, which was recognized by relevant parties. It's natural that relevant parties have different views on the topics and working style. China is working hard with the coordination of the rest of the parties. We should have confidence in holding the third round of talks before the end of June on the basis of consensus reached among the parties. We should also have confidence in holding the working group's meeting before the talks.

Q: Is Kim Jung Il in China at the moment?

A: I don't have any information to deny your question. Neither do I have any authorized information to confirm the news. If I may, I hope we can conclude the question here today.

Q: The transcript of Vice President Cheney's speech in Shanghai was edited in publishing, how do you explain it?

A: There was live broadcasting on Chinese TV channels of Vice President Cheney's speech in Fudan University. It's up to the press to publish the whole text of the speech or just a round-up story.

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