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Wen's Upcoming Europe-Asia Tour 'Of Great Importance'

According to the Foreign Ministry, Premier Wen Jiabao will pay official visits to France, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Malaysia from December 4 to 15. He will also attend the ninth summit between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ninth ASEAN plus China, Japan and the Republic of Korea Summit and the First East Asian Summit in Kuala Lumpur.


Zhao Jun, director of the Foreign Ministry's European Department at a briefing on Wen's visit here Wednesday called the visit to the four European countries "another big event" after President Hu Jintao's visit to Europe in November.


Latest statistics show that China and France have achieved a breakthrough in economic and trade cooperation in 2005 with two-way trade volume valued at US$17.58 billion, up 31.3 percent over the same time from 2004. 


From January to October this year, value of bilateral trade was US$16.64 billion, up 17.3 percent over the same time in 2004.


Great successes were also scored in the Chinese culture year in France and French culture year in China, Zhao said, noting relevant activities remarkably helped the two peoples to expand mutual understanding and friendship.


"We are satisfied with the current comprehensive growth of Sino-French relations", Zhao stressed, adding that Wen will hold talks with French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, meet with French President Jacques Chirac and President of the French national Assembly Jean-Louis Debre, deliver an important speech in Paris, visit French and European aviation and space companies and sign a series of important agreements of cooperation.


In response to a reporter's question on Wen's visit to Slovakia, Zhao recognized that the joint statement signed between China and Slovakia in 2003 marked a landmark for the growth of bilateral relations in the new era.


Political mutual trust is further boosted, bilateral economic and trade cooperation has scored remarkable growth and exchanges in the fields of science and technology, culture, education, sports and tourism continue to increase, Zhao said, highlighting that Wen's visit to Slovakia will be the first by a Chinese leader since Slovakia gained independence in 1993.


"Wen will exchange views with Slovak leaders on furthering China-Slovakia friendly and cooperative ties and issues of common concern, and the two sides will also sign some agreements", Zhao said.


On China-Czech relations, Zhao said that Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek's respective successful visits to China last and this year witnessed increased bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields and helped enhance the scale and level of bilateral cooperation.


China and the Czech Republic will push forward bilateral relations on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, Zhao said.


The relations between China and Portugal have developed smoothly since they forged diplomatic ties in 1979, Zhao said.


"Wen is the first Chinese premier to visit Portugal over the past 13 years," he said, adding that the high-level contacts would enhance mutual understanding, trust, and cooperation.


During his stay in Portugal, Wen is expected to hold talks with Prime Minister Jose Socrates, and meet with President Jorge Sampaio and Parliament Speaker Jaime Gama, he said.


The two sides would also sign some cooperative documents covering politics, trade, judiciary, education and public health.


Wen's visit to Malaysia and his attendance at the ASEAN summits is an important diplomatic move by Chinese leaders, Cui Tiankai, director of the ministry's Asian Department, said.


According to Cui, Wen will meet Supreme head of state Sultan Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, exchanging views on bilateral cooperation, the relationship between China and the ASEAN, as well as regional and international issues of common concern.


2006 is the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the dialogue between China and ASEAN.


As for the ten plus three summit, Cui said, China will give a positive appraisal for the achievements of East-Asian cooperation and advocate building up an East-Asian community and supporting ASEAN's leading role in the community.


The first East-Asian summit will be attended by the ten ASEAN members, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. The participants will exchange views on international and regional political and economic issues.


(Xinhua News Agency December 1, 2005)

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