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China Hopes Early Resumption of 6-Party Talks
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China hopes the six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue will be held soon, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.


"It's our belief that it would be better to hold the meeting as early as possible," spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular news briefing.


On Tuesday's informal meeting in Beijing between chief delegates to the six-party talks from China, North Korea and the US, which led to the announcement of talks resuming, Liu said: "We appreciate and welcome the positive attitude and flexibility they've shown."


The meeting ended with an agreement to "restart the talks in the near future at a time convenient to the six parties."


The talks aimed at making the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free also involve South Korea, Russia and Japan. The last round of talks was suspended in November last year when North Korea refused to return to the negotiating table citing financial sanctions imposed by the US against it.


On Wednesday, Pyongyang said it decided to return to the talks "on the premise that the issue of lifting financial sanctions will be discussed and settled between North Korea and the US within the framework of the six-party talks."


US Ambassador to South Korea Alexander Vershbow said in Seoul yesterday that Washington had agreed to form a working group on the financial sanctions issue.


Speaking of UN sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear test on October 9, Liu said Security Council Resolution 1718 represented the consensus of the international community. "Every country has the obligation to strictly and faithfully fulfill the resolution. China is no exception."


But the sanctions were not a goal in themselves, he said, explaining they should be used to help resolve the issue through diplomatic channels to maintain peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.


Liu said China was willing to discuss with Japan the establishment of a free trade area (FTA). He was commenting on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's remarks on the establishment of an FTA with China. A Japanese reporter said Abe was considering the issue but had concerns about intellectual property rights (IPR) protection in China.


Liu said free trade would be conducive to the long-term stable development of China-Japan economic and trade relations and was in the interests of both countries as economic globalization and regional integration developed.


It was also in the interests of China to protect IPR and the government had taken a series of effective measures and made important progress in this regard, he noted.


The government would take more administrative and legislative measures to strengthen IPR protection and was willing to cooperate with other countries in this field, Liu said.


In another development, Liu admitted former Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, was in China on a private visit, but the Chinese government hadn't been informed by either the Thai government or Thaksin of the visit.


Thaksin was toppled in a bloodless coup in September. It was reported that he arrived in China on Tuesday and attempted to meet with Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont at the China-ASEAN Summit held this week.


Also at yesterday's briefing Liu rejected a report by the US-based National Academy of Sciences that a new strain of H5N1 bird flu has been found in the south of China.


"The continuous surveillance since 2004 has found no evidence of major mutations to the virus and the biological characteristics of the bird flu viruses selected from the south share a high uniformity," he said.


A report about a new strain of H5N1 bird flu in south China was released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, stating it was found in almost all poultry outbreaks and some human cases.


Liu said the findings of mutations to the virus in north China had been reported to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health.


"China has cooperated closely with the WHO and the FAO and shares all information on bird flu and the virus with the international community," he added.


(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency November 3, 2006)

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