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German Leaders Vow to Push for Stronger China Ties

Visiting President Hu Jintao was assured by top German leaders that the country will continue to push for stronger relations with China despite the change of government.

The assurance came during Hu's separate talks with Chancellor-designate Angela Merkel and outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on the second day of his state visit to Germany.

His four-day German trip is aimed at encouraging foreign investment and expanding links. It is part of his European trip, which has already seen him visit Great Britain, and will take him to Spain on Sunday.

The president's 45-minute talks with Merkel, a former environment minister, focused on energy, environmental and economic issues, according to German participants present at the meeting.

Merkel told Hu that she wanted to keep strong economic and political ties with China.

Hu invited Merkel to visit China and Merkel told him she would "certainly soon, and very gladly come."

Later on Friday, Hu held talks with Schroeder, who has visited China six times during the seven years he has been Chancellor.

Following his meeting with Schroeder, Hu told reporters that he was heartened that Schroeder and Merkel had assured him of "continuity" in bilateral relations.

Hu and Schroeder were also due to lay the foundation stone for the first Chinese cultural institute in Germany to help further Chinese-German dialogue.

In a speech to German business leaders on Thursday, the Chinese president said he hoped the change of German government would not affect China's relationship with the biggest economy in the European Union (EU).

Germany, an important driving force for European integration, has over the years offered vigorous support and commitment to closer China-EU cooperation and has thus made important contributions to the development of China-EU relations, Hu said.

Hu hoped that Germany would continue to play its positive role within the EU and make new contributions to the all-round development of China-EU ties.

In May 2004, the two countries issued a joint statement saying they would establish a partnership with global responsibility within the framework of a comprehensive strategic partnership between China and the EU.

During his talks with Hu on Thursday, German President Horst Koehler emphasized that Germany will maintain the continuity of its policy towards China and fully implement all the agreements set out in the joint statement by the two countries.

Koehler said China's rapid development over the past two decades has drawn worldwide attention and its influence and role in international affairs is also growing.

Germany cherishes its friendly relations with China and hopes to expand exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in various fields, he said.

(China Daily November 12, 2005)

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