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China-Africa Cooperation Forum SOM Concludes

The third Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum concluded in Addis Ababa Saturday, with the adoption of the draft agenda for the second ministerial conference of the forum slated for December 15-16.

The preparative SOM also considered the draft Addis Ababa Action Plan of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation 2004-2006, to be adopted by the ministerial conference.

The opening ceremony of the SOM of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum was jointly presided over by Kongit Sinegiorgis, director general of African Affairs and permanent representative of Ethiopia to the African Union, and Du Qiwen, secretary general of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the Forum.

Attendees highly commended the follow-up activities of both China and African countries since the first ministerial conference of the forum in 2000, Beijing, and expressed wishes and confidence in the cooperation in such areas as human resource development, agriculture, infrastructure development, investment and trade.

"China's cooperation with Africa particularly in some critical areas can make a real difference in assisting African countries in their earnest fight for transforming their political and socio- economic development," said Ethiopian State Minister of Trade and Industry Taddese Haile in his opening statement at the SOM.

"It is due to this prime fact that we consider China as our vital and strategic partner," he said.

"Since China is an emerging economy, we have a lot to learn from its ample experiences."

It is the first time that the ministerial conference of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum is to be held on the African continent, hosted jointly by China and Ethiopia.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and a dozen more of African heads of state and government are expected to attend the opening ceremony of the ministerial conference.

Also present will be 69 ministers and representatives of some international and regional organizations.

The China-Africa Cooperation Forum, a collective consultation and dialogue mechanism between China and African countries, is the first of its kind in the history of Sino-African relationship.

It is a future-oriented move taken by both sides in the context of South-South cooperation to seek common development under the new situation.

The first ministerial meeting of the forum was held in Beijing in 2000.

(Xinhua News Agency December 14, 2003)

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