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China Welcomes Merkel's Chancellorship

The government extended its congratulations to German conservative leader Angela Merkel in becoming the country's first woman chancellor, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Kong Quan told a regular press conference yesterday.

He said the government hopes Germany's ongoing coalition negotiations proceed smoothly and that it gives a high priority to relations with Germany.

Xinhua News Agency reported that Merkel pledged on Monday to continue to improve already close ties with China, begun by Helmut Kohl and expanded under outgoing chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, since 1998.

Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and Schroeder's Social Democratic Party reached a power-sharing agreement on Monday.

Issues with Japan

Kong also announced that the third round of China-Japan strategic dialogue would be held in Beijing from Friday to Monday.

The first two rounds of the talks were held in Beijing in May and in Tokyo in June.

Kong also said that a new round of talks on disputes in the East China Sea would be held by the end of this month.

China will press Japan to take full responsibility to dispose of leftover chemical weapons from World War II, Kong said. A Japanese cabinet official began a five-day China trip yesterday to discuss ongoing work in this area.

Rumsfeld's visit to Beijing

Kong also said US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld would visit Beijing from October 18 to 20, his first to China since assuming office in 2001.

Kong said Rumsfeld would meet government and military leaders to improve bilateral ties as well as military exchanges.

"We believe the visit is key to enhancing mutual understanding and trust," he said.

Rumsfeld's visit is expected to create a positive environment ahead of President George W. Bush's visit in November.

Sino-US Joint Economic Commission

Chinese currency reform will be included in the agenda of the upcoming meeting of the Sino-US Joint Economic Commission (JEC), Kong said.

Sino-US economic and trade relations, financial cooperation, regional and world's macro-economy will be on the agenda as well, he said.

US Treasury Secretary John Snow and US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan are expected to be present at the meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors, which will convene in China from October 15 to 16, Kong added.

He said Snow and Finance Minister Jin Renqing will co-chair the JEC meeting scheduled to start Sunday afternoon.

It is Greenspan's first China visit since he took post in 1987, Kong said, adding that the senior US Federal Reserve chairman will know more about China's financial situation and currency reform from his stay in the country.

Wu Yi's North Korean tour

Kong said that during Vice Premier Wu Yi's visit to North Korea, her discussions focused on further enhancing bilateral economic cooperation and trade.

China and North Korea should work together to realize the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries on strengthening bilateral relations under the new situation, Kong said.

He also said the two countries should explore new ways for cooperation under the principles of mutual benefit and common progress.

He described Wu's visit as "successful and satisfactory," saying the two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on furthering bilateral relations.

The relevant issues on six-party talks had also been touched upon during the visit, he said.

At the invitation of the North Korean government, Wu visited the country from October 8 to 11. She met with North Korean leaders and attended celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Worker's Party of Korea.

Relief materials to Pakistan

China will stay in close contact with Pakistan and adjust the dispatch of relief materials in accordance with Pakistan's requirements, Kong said.

"The first thing we are going to do is to materialize the US$6.2 million worth of assistance and promptly send it to Pakistan according to their requirements," he said.

Kong said the Chinese international search and rescue team has found three survivors in Pakistan and rescued one of them. The team has also treated more than 10 injured, and is now working day and night.

A 7.6-magnitude earthquake rocked the northern area of Pakistan on October 8. China offered emergency aid worth US$6.2 million, and a rescue team of 49 people was sent on October 9, following those from the UK, Turkey, Spain and the International Federation of the Red Cross.

The earthquake also affected India and Afghanistan.

Iranian FM to visit

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki will visit from October 13 to 14 at the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Kong said.

(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily October 12, 2005)

Merkel Pledges to Continue Close Tie with China
Merkel to Become German Chancellor
N. Korean Leader Meets Vice Premier
WWII Chemical Weapons in Jilin to Be Disposed
China, Japan Hold Talks on Disputed Gas Field Issue
Rumsfeld to Make First Visit to China
China, Japan to Solve E. China Sea Dispute Through Talks
FM: Talks Only Way to Solve East China Sea Dispute
Chinese Foreign Ministry
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