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FM Calls for 'Reasonable Expectations' of Six-party Meeting

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao Tuesday called for "reasonable expectations" for the first working group meeting of the six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.  

Noting that the parties involved have pledged for "flexibility, patience and pragmatism" at the meeting that begins today in Beijing, Liu said at a regular news briefing that it requires "a period of time" to narrow down the differences in such areas as how to achieve non-nuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and the first step in dismantling nuclear programs.


"We hope that all parties will have in-depth exchanges of their views and put forward sound plans to resolve each other's concerns and prepare for the next round of talks," said Liu.


After two rounds of ministerial-level six-party talks, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has sought economic aid in exchange for freezing its nuclear programs.


The United States, while noting DPRK's need for energy sources, nevertheless asked the country to first dismantle all its nuclear programs in a "complete, verifiable and irreversible" manner.


The second round of six-party talks, which was held in late February, left room for further discussion about the scope for freezing nuclear programs and how to conduct nuclear inspections on the Korean Peninsula.


Liu said the working group meeting will discuss the issues that the second round of six-party talks "touched upon but did not have time to probe deeper."


"We hope that through full consultations and discussions, related parties will enhance understanding, increase trust and dispel suspicion, seek and build up consensus," said Liu, adding that the meeting is a continuation and a part of the six-party talks.


The open-ended meeting will be attended by delegations from the six countries.


They are headed respectively by Ning Fukui from China, Li Gun from the DPRK, Joseph DeTrani from the United States, Cho Tae-yong from the Republic of Korea, V. Sukhinin from Russia and Akitaika Saiki from Japan.


Starting Tuesday, Ning, who is China's special envoy for Korean Peninsula affairs and chairs the working group meeting, has held separate talks with the heads of the other delegations.


Liu declined to give further details as what the bilateral talks have touched upon.


Liu Tuesday also reiterated other countries should acknowledge the one-China principle in pursuing and developing diplomatic ties with China.


"If the leader of a country is sincere in developing ties with China, it must respect and accept such a stance of the Chinese government (that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is a part of China)," said Liu.


Liu was responding to remarks made by the newly-elected President of Panama Martin Torrijos. Torrijos said during his election campaign that he would consider or propose the establishment of diplomatic relations with Beijing without severing diplomatic ties with Taipei.


In another development, the spokesman expressed strong dissatisfaction over the US Congress' decision to pass a motion supporting Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization (WHO).


Liu said the US Congress insisted on passing the motion despite China's opposition. China has lodged solemn representation to the US side over this issue.


Liu said the WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations and only sovereign states are eligible to apply for membership. According to the WHO's rules and regulations, Taiwan, as a part of China, is not eligible to participate in the WHO or attend the WHO conference as an observer, Liu said.


He said the Chinese central government has been always concerned over the well-being and the right of health of the Taiwan people, and has promoted exchanges on health across the straits to help Taiwan acquire the relevant information.


Liu noted that with the permission of the Chinese central government, experts from the WHO have been to Taiwan several times to learn about severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and other epidemics there, and the Taiwan experts have also participated in the WHO special meetings on SARS and cancer.


Facts show that Taiwan has a smooth channel to get health information, he said, adding that the Chinese central government had expressed welcome for Taiwan health experts to join the Chinese delegation to present at the WHO conference.


He said if Taiwan needs the WHO's technical assistance, so long as it informs the Chinese central government, China will give active consideration to their needs.


Liu said the real purpose of the Taiwan authorities does not lie in the health issue, but to create "two Chinas" and "one China, one Taiwan" in the international community to achieve its attempt at "Taiwan Independence", which can not succeed, Liu said.


China urges the US side to honor its promise of abiding by the one-China policy and the three Sino-US joint communiqu├ęs, opposing "Taiwan independence", and prudently and properly handling the WHO's Taiwan-related issues, lest they damage the Sino-US relations, he said.


Moving on to the Iraq issue, the spokesman claimed a thorough investigation should be made into the abuses of Iraqi prisoners by US and British military personnel, and those responsible should be punished according to laws.


Liu said the abuses are violations of the Geneva Conventions and other international conventions. The United States and Britain should abide by these international conventions and protect the basic human rights of Iraqi prisoners, he said.


Liu said abuses of prisoners run against both the international laws and the internal laws of relevant countries. The handling of the case should be based on a thorough investigation.


He said the abuses of Iraqi prisoners show that violations of human rights may take any forms in any countries and any regions. Therefore, protection of human rights is a common task for the entire human race and all countries in the world.


China claims that human rights issues should be handled through dialogues, instead of confrontations, in a bid to increase understanding and diminish differences, he said.


Also at yesterday's briefing, the spokesman announced Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev will pay a state visit to China from May 16 to 19 at the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao.


During the visit, both leaders will exchange views on bilateral relations, promoting mutually beneficial cooperation in various spheres, and other global and regional issues of common concern, according to Liu.


(Sources including China Daily and Xinhua News Agency, May 12, 2004)

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