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Zoellick Praised for Promoting Sino-US Relations
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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu spoke highly of the role US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick had played in developing Sino-US relations saying he had made positive efforts to promote the mutual understanding and trust between the two countries.

Jiang said at a regular press conference in Beijing Tuesday that Zoellick had attached great importance to the development of Sino-US relationship and made positive efforts to promote it during his term of office.

Zoellick, the State Department's second in command, resigned Monday and reportedly would join the investment house of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

"We hope and believe that he will continue to play an active role in his new post to push forward the bilateral relations and reciprocal cooperation between the two countries," Jiang said.

Last year, Zoellick held two rounds of China-US Strategic Dialogues with his Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo, discussing a wide range of issues.

The Chinese side hopes to continue carrying out the strategic dialogue with Zoellick's successor for the promotion of Sino-US constructive and cooperative relations, the spokeswoman said.

Also on Tuesday, Jiang announced that Chinese President Hu Jintao would attend a meeting between the Group of Eight (G8) and developing countries in St. Petersburg in July at the invitation of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

China maintains that developed countries and developing nations should collectively respond to the global challenges as equal partners in order to achieve a successful outcome.

According to Jiang, the talks will cover issues relevant to energy security, education, the development of Africa and the prevention and control of communicable diseases.

The Chinese hope the meeting can advance the positive progress of international cooperation in the relevant fields in compliance with the principles of equality and mutual benefit, seeking common ground while understanding each other's differences and making active, substantial efforts and conducting cooperation so as to attain a win-win outcome.

Acknowledging that both China and the G8 are important members of the international community and that China was still a developing nation, Jiang said China was willing to enhance dialogue and cooperate with the G8.

On Sino-African relations Jiang said a Chinese government delegation would attend the seventh African Union (AU) summit in early July as observers. The summit is scheduled to be held Gambia's capital of Banjul. 

Regarding the AU as the most representative regional organization of Africa, Jiang said it had played an important role in maintaining peace and promoting development.

"China has all along retained sound cooperative ties with the AU and provided support and help for its mechanism building and relevant actions," she said.

China had always been invited to attend the AU summit in recent years, the spokeswoman said. In order to enhance friendly cooperation with the AU, China sent a representative to meet with them in March, she added.

On the illegal arms trade Jiang said China had always supported and actively assisted with international efforts to crackdown on the trade in small arms and light weapons.

"The Chinese government strictly abides by and fulfils the UN resolutions on arms embargos and has won the recognition of the international community," said Jiang.

China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, always followed the relevant principles of the UN Charter and made joint efforts with the international community to safeguard world peace and security, said Jiang.

Jiang said China had played constructive roles in formulating a series of UN documents on small weapons.

On the Korean nuclear issue, Jiang said China hoped all relevant parties would act in a way conducive to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.

Jiang said China had noted the reports about North Korea's plans to conduct missile tests but didn't have any further details on the subject. 

Under such circumstances it was hoped all parties concerned would act in a way conducive to regional peace and stability and help ease the tense situation, she said.

Jiang noted China had always been devoted to maintaining the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. China was willing to work with all sides to strive for that goal.

Recent Japanese and Republic of Korea media reports said there was evidence North Korea was preparing to test a Taepodong-2 long-range missile.

US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said on Monday his country were  consulting with other members of the UN Security Council on how to respond to the situation.

In another development, Jiang said the Chinese government firmly supported the appointment of an Asian as the next UN secretary-general.

The government believed that Asia had the ability to select a prestigious and competent candidate acceptable to the world community, Jiang said.

The Indian government named Shashi Tharoor, a senior UN official, as its candidate to succeed UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last Thursday.

Asked to comment on India's candidate, Jiang said selection of the next secretary-general was a major event for the UN and no Asian had held the post for 34 years.

The Chinese government believed comprehensive consultations should be held on the selection of the next UN secretary-general, Jiang added.

Three other Asian countries have also named candidates for the post: Sri Lankan diplomat and former UN disarmament chief Jayantha Dhanapala, Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and the Republic of Korea's Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon.

The next UN secretary-general will be selected in October.

State visit. Australian Prime Minister John Howard will visit China from June 27 to 29 at the invitation of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, announced Jiang. During the visit, the two prime ministers will hold a meeting in Shenzhen city, south China's Guangdong Province and attend a ceremony marking a new liquefied natural gas project, added Jiang.

(Xinhua News Agency June 21, 2006)

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