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China, ASEAN Pledge to Expand Cooperation

Foreign ministers of China and the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) pledged Monday to deepen and expand their cooperation, said a press release issued after the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Informal Meeting.


In the economic and scientific field, the ministers agreed that ASEAN and China should develop their cooperation in agriculture, information and communication technology, human resources development, Mekong basin development, mutual investment, public health and science and technology.


The foreign ministers said they would push for the realization of the East Asian community through the existing ASEAN plus China, Japan and the Republic of Korea mechanism.


The ministers also vowed to push for establishment of ASEAN-China Free Trade Area and ASEAN economic, security and socio-culture communities to promote common development.


The meeting was co-chaired by Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Hor Nam Hong, Cambodian minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation. Ong Keng Yong, secretary-general of ASEAN, also attended the meeting.


At the meeting, the ministers agreed to regard the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia as a code of conduct for state-to-state relations in this region.


The Chinese side reiterated its willingness to sign the Protocol to the Treaty of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ), for which ASEAN would highly commend China, given China's status as a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council.


On issues related to the Korean Peninsula, the ministers expressed their support for the ongoing efforts towards a nuclear-weapon-free Korean Peninsula and the ASEAN side commended China's active and important role in promoting the six-party talks about the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.


According to the press release, the ministers also agreed that the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in South China Sea should be incrementally implemented in an effective way so as to maintain regional stability and promote cooperation in the South China Sea.


On the Taiwan issue, the ministers believed that maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits conforms to the common interests of all countries in the region. ASEAN member countries reaffirmed their commitment to the one-China policy, for which the Chinese side expressed its appreciation.


The ministers agreed to continue utilizing existing mechanisms to enhance mutual understanding and expand common ground, which would go a long way in strengthening China-ASEAN strategic partnership, the release added.


(Xinhua News Agency June 22, 2004)

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