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Shrine Visits Blamed for Hindering Ties

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue, at a regular news briefing in Beijing Tuesday, said that Japanese leaders' continued visits to the Yasukuni Shrine are the most inflammatory issue stalling relations.


Japanese shrine


The shrine honors Japanese war dead since the mid-19th century, including 14 World War II criminals, and has become a symbol of past Japanese aggression for many people in China and elsewhere in Asia.


President Hu Jintao and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi spoke about the issue during talks following the 12th Economic Leaders' Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum held in Santiago, Chile.


Hu urged Koizumi to view Japan's wartime history with an eye to the future, and called for a halt to visits to the shrine by Japanese leaders.


Zhang said the meeting tells of the importance Chinese leaders place on Sino-Japanese relations. For more than 32 years they have noticeably developed their relations, she said, and the fruits should be treasured and both countries should exert more positive efforts to improve bilateral ties.


Korean Peninsula


Moving on to the nuclear standoff on the Korean Peninsula, the spokeswoman said that all parties agreed to solve the issue through the process of the six-party talks. These involve South and North Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the US.


"Due to the complexity of the nuclear issue, when to hold the next round of talks or whether to hold a working-level meeting prior to the talks needs further consultation and coordination by the parties," said Zhang.


During the APEC summit Hu met with leaders of the countries involved in the six-party talks, who all agreed on the talks' significance, Zhang said.


The US and Taiwan


When meeting with US President George W. Bush, the two leaders reiterated the importance of the Taiwan issue to bilateral relations, Zhang said.


Hu said that "Taiwan independence" will not only put an end to peace across the Taiwan Straits but also gravely wreck peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the spokeswoman.


Both China and the US should perceive the perils involved and understand the sensitivity and importance of the Taiwan issue, Zhang quoted Hu as saying.


Cuban meetings


She also said she hoped Hu's visit to Cuba will boost the two countries' relations and expand cooperation.


Zhang said Hu just ended his talks with Fidel Castro and that both expressed their satisfaction with the sound development of relations and wished to deepen their cooperation in a broader way.


After their talks, they signed a package of agreements on cooperation in economy, technology, plant quarantine, biotechnology and education, Zhang said.


EU arms embargo


The spokeswoman also said that removing the EU's ban on arms sales to China does not necessarily mean China will increase its imports of weapons from it.


Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot hinted on Monday that the EU is ready to send China a "positive signal" on the arms embargo issue during an EU-China summit to be held in The Hague on December 8, while the Netherlands holds the EU's rotating presidency.


With a clear stand that EU should remove the arms embargo soon, Zhang said: "We hope the EU can make more contributions to the overall development of Sino-EU relations rather than placing obstacles."


She said lifting the 15-year-old embargo is a matter of "political principle," and China hopes the EU can make the "right decision" as soon as possible.


Iran’s nuclear program


Turning to the Iranian nuclear issue, the spokeswoman said Iran's decision to suspend its nuclear program would create favorable conditions for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to solve the problem.


The IAEA board of governors passed a resolution in September demanding that Iran stop all nuclear enrichment programs before November 25.


Iran announced on November 15 that the country would stop all uranium enrichment-related activities, a move confirmed by the IAEA.


Vietnamese territorial dispute


In response to Vietnam's criticism of China's oil exploration in the South China Sea, Zhang said China cannot accept an accusation without proof.


She said Kantan III, an oil-drilling platform, is located in China's territorial waters in the mouth of the Beibu Gulf.


"The Chinese side followed international practice to make an announcement of navigation in advance through the sea affairs authority to guarantee the safety of passing ships."


Zhang said China is willing to exchange views with Vietnam on this regard. Vietnam said China should cancel its oil-drilling plan in the South China Sea, saying it would infringe on its sovereignty.


Fishermen held in Peru


In another development, the spokeswoman said China has called on Peru to properly handle the detained Chinese fishermen and treat them in a humanitarian manner.


China has learned that on November 19, Peruvian authorities detained nine Chinese fishing ships, and the cause is as yet unknown, she said.


Zhang said China has repeatedly told its fishermen to abide by relevant international accords and agreements and hopes Peru will handle the situation quickly and properly.


India and Pakistan


Turning to border talks with India, Zhang said the fourth special representative meeting between them was constructive. 


She said the talks were held amid a friendly and frank atmosphere and the two sides expressed willingness to maintain further contact.


During the meeting in Beijing last week, they agreed to hold another round of talks in New Delhi. The exact time for the meeting is being discussed.


Zhang said China and India will try to find a solution to border issues.


She also said China is happy about and supports high-level contacts and dialogue between India and Pakistan. 


On Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz's visit to India, Zhang noted the two countries have made active efforts in easing relations this year.


She said India and Pakistan should settle their differences through peaceful means, as it will strengthen cooperation in South Asia and is conducive to regional peace, stability and development.


British visit


Also at yesterday's briefing, Zhang announced John Prescott, the British deputy prime minister, will pay an official visit to China from November 30 to December 4 at the invitation of Vice Premier Huang Ju.


(Sources including Xinhua News Agency, China Daily and CRI.com, November 24, 2004)

More Cooperation Agreed with Cuba
Koizumi Urged to Stop Shrine Visits
EU Hails Iran's Decision to Suspend Uranium Enrichment
Pakistan PM Expects 'Substantive Dialogue'
Hu Hails Steady Growth of Sino-US Ties
Japan, China Leaders Agree to Meet: Japanese FM
EU Urged to Lift Arms Embargo
India Offers Kashmir Talks, Pulls Troops
Powell's Work Appreciated
UN OKs Iran Deal to Suspend Enrichment
China Indignant About Vietnam's Tourism to Nansha Islands
Solana: EU Ready to Lift China Arms Embargo
US Pressing EU to Uphold Arms Embargo Against China
EU Considers Lifting Arms Embargo on China
South China Sea Disputes to Be Settled Peacefully
Chinese Foreign Ministry
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