A wealth of agreements concerning maritime transportation, environmental protection and biological diversity are expected to be reached at the upcoming annual China-EU summit in Beijing next week, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang announced yesterday at a regular press briefing, the first after the summer break.
President Hu Jintao will meet with the European delegation to the summit scheduled next Monday before leaving for the US for his North American tour.
Among the dignitaries to attend the Eighth China-EU Summit will be Premier Wen Jiabao, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. The UK currently holds the EU presidency.
Qin said the summit would cover a wide range of topics in a bid to further promote a comprehensive China-EU strategic partnership.
He said the Second China-EU Business Summit would also be held next week, hoping to increase the level of practical cooperation.
Reports said the two sides would announce the beginning of formal talks on a new China-EU framework agreement, and that observers believed the summit was another strong signal of a mutual commitment to deepen bilateral relations.
The EU became China's largest trade partner last year while China was the EU's second biggest, according to Qin, who said he has full confidence in rosy prospects for bilateral cooperation.
Blair will remain in China on Tuesday and then fly to India the next day. It is reported that his spokesperson said the visits were an opportunity for him to get a firsthand experience of some of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Turning to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, Qin indicated that there is still no specific date for the resumption of six-party talks, but "China is working with other parties on the timetable."
Qin said the parties concerned have conducted extensive consultations and dialogue during the talks' recess after they failed to resume as scheduled in the week of August 29. But North Korea agreed to rejoin the talks in the week of September 12.
"These negotiations and dialogue are also an important part of the six-party talks process and will help increase mutual understanding," said Qin.
"The date of resuming the talks is not important. What's important is that all the parties agreed to resume the talks and we all have kept contact and negotiation in the framework of six-party talks," said Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei after a recent visit to North Korea.
Responding to the ongoing Japanese election campaign, Qin said he is not in a position to comment since it is Japan's internal affair. However, he said no matter who the new Japanese leader is, he hoped bilateral relations could develop continually in the spirit of "taking history as a mirror and facing forward to the future."
It is a persistent stance that China opposes Japanese political figures' visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 Class-A WWII war criminals are honored, he said.
Qin also expressed deep sympathy and condolences to the Iraqi people for the Baghdad bridge stampede on Wednesday, describing it as "a misfortune event with heavy casualties."
According to latest reports, the death toll has risen to 965 with 465 others injured.
A fake suicide bomb alarm is reported to have triggered the stampede on a bridge over the Tigris River as 1 million pilgrims from many parts of Baghdad and other provinces gathered for the annual commemoration of the death of the seventh of the 12 most revered Shi'a imams.
Qin also announced that Hungarian Prime Minister Gyurcsany Ferenc will visit from September 8 to 9 at the invitation of Premier Wen.
(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency September 2, 2005)