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Foreign Minister Meets the Press

The six-party talks on the Korean peninsula nuclear issue should be continued despite many difficulties in the peace process, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said at a press conference on Sunday. Li was speaking in the Great Hall of the People on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the National People's Congress.


China hopes the participants demonstrate flexibility, sincerity and patience to reopen the talks as soon as possible, said Li. He urged the US and North Korea to engage in direct talks to increase mutual trust and understanding.


"No matter how difficult the process is," the top diplomat said, "China always adheres to the position for making peace and facilitating the talks in an objective and impartial way."


Li said that China pursues the objective for a nuclear-free, peaceful and stable Korean peninsula while addressing the legitimate concerns of North Korea.


In response to a question from an Associated Press reporter about what steps China would take to "compel" North Korea to return to the talks, Li pointed out that both the US and North Korea are sovereign states. The top leaders of North Korea had expressed their willingness to continue as well as their concerns.


"They remain ready and willing to continue to participate in the six-party talks," Li said. "They hope the rest of the parties will display more sincerity."


China's position on the Korean peninsula issue is in line with its overall stance on foreign relations, which promotes worldwide peace, prosperity and cooperation.


Li added that the Chinese diplomats have adhered to the principle of "doing diplomatic work for the people," protecting the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens abroad and handling emergency incidents such as attacks against Chinese citizens overseas.


Turning to the issue of Taiwan, Li affirmed that it is China's internal affair and should not be considered within the framework of the US-Japan security alliance.


Li, who served as ambassador to the US in Washington from 1998 to 2001, called the US-Japan military alliance a "bilateral arrangement that occurred under special circumstances during the Cold War" and urged it to "be strictly restricted to a bilateral nature."


Beyond that, he stated, the US-Japan alliance would definitely "arouse uneasiness on the part of Asian countries and complicate the regional security situation."


On the issue of the Diaoyu Islands, the foreign minister said that China has indisputable, historical and legal sovereignty over the islands. Problems concerning them should be solved through talks on the basis of facts and should not affect the healthy development of the Sino-Japanese ties, he said.


The minister said that "proper conditions and atmosphere" should be created to facilitate the resumption of the exchange of high-level visits between China and Japan. Noting that the two countries' relations had been forged through mutual efforts over a long period of time, he stated that the results should be cherished and perpetuated.


Li expressed his belief that China and Pakistan will further strengthen their bilateral and multilateral relations for the benefit of their peoples and of regional development and stability.


Recalling that China and Russia completely resolved their long-standing border issues last year, Li referred to Sino-Russian ties as "successful and fruitful." He stated that bilateral cooperation in such areas as economy, trade, culture, education and military have been developing steadily.


Turning to Europe, Li said that the maintenance of the European arms embargo on China is "obsolete and useless."


Li Zhaoxing said that Sino-US relations have been making headway as the two countries share extensive interests. To ensure healthy development, a long-term and strategic view should be adopted, particularly in dealing with the sensitive Taiwan issue.


In other words, it is essential for the two countries to abide by principles of the Sino-US joint communiques, said the foreign minister.


On the subject of oil prices, Li pointed out that China is both an energy consumer and producer and cannot be held responsible for the world's rising oil prices. He said that the country's energy demand has increased to certain extent as the country's economy has been growing rapidly in recent years, but that most of this demand is to be met domestically.


"Although China's energy imports have increased a little bit over the past two years, its imports only account for approximately 6 percent of the world's total traded oil," he said.


He added that China has great potential for improving energy efficiency.


In 2004, 52 heads of state and government of foreign countries visited China. Top Party and state leaders of China, including President Hu Jintao, top legislator Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao and Jia Qinglin, chairman of China's top advisory body, the Chinese People 's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), visited 34 countries around the world.


(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2005)

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