President Hu Jintao will visit the US next week with the aim of strengthening bilateral ties amid frictions over trade and the renminbi's exchange rate, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.
Hu's four-day US trip, which starts on April 18, will take him to Seattle and Washington D.C., the ministry's spokesman Liu Jianchao said at a regular news briefing in Beijing.
"He is expected to meet US President George W. Bush and other senior officials for in-depth discussions on bilateral relations and other international or regional issues of common concern," Liu said.
He added that Hu is also expected to deliver a speech at Yale University in Connecticut.
Following the US trip, Hu will travel to Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya for official visits, which will last until April 29, Liu said.
Hu's first visit to the White House since taking office comes amid mounting pressure from the US for China to address its surging trade surplus as well as the revaluation of its currency.
"China and the US do have differences on trade and some other issues," Liu said. "We are going to move ahead while expanding mutual trust and improving relations during this visit."
Last week, a trade mission led by Vice Premier Wu Yi signed contracts worth US$4.4 billion for made-in-America software, automobiles and soybeans, a move widely regarded as an attempt to ease bilateral trade tensions.
Hu had planned a visit to the US last September but had to postpone it after Hurricane Katrina battered the southern coast of the US.
Referring to the controversial issue of human rights, Liu said differences between China and other countries including the US should be resolved "on the basis of equality and mutual respect and through dialogue."
Liu said US assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, Thomas Shannon, will visit China from April 12 to 15 to discuss Latin American affairs, at the invitation of Zeng Gang, head of the Foreign Ministry's Department of Latin American Affairs.
This will be the first consultation between the two countries on the subject, Liu noted.
Vice Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi is also scheduled to meet with Shannon.
The main topics for discussion include their respective relations with Latin American countries, Latin America policies, the general situation and their cooperation in the region.
The consultation, part of the China-US strategic dialogue, will help increase understanding and trust between the two sides, Liu said.
In other developments, a conference on security in Northeast Asia was held in Tokyo from April 9 to 11. Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, who was in Tokyo but did not attend the conference, took the opportunity to meet with envoys of the other five countries involved in the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, namely the US, Russia, Japan, North and South Korea, Liu said.
He urged all parties concerned to take concrete measures to fulfill the consensus reached in the fourth round of six-party talks and the commitments made by all parties.
In response to remarks by a Japanese Embassy spokesman that nationalism was on the steady rise in China, Liu said the Chinese government opposes ultra-nationalism.
He described the Japanese remarks as a misinterpretation of the Chinese government's attitudes and positions, adding they were not helpful to improving bilateral relations and resolving historical differences between China and Japan.
Japan should squarely face the difficulties in Sino-Japanese relations and take concrete measures to resolve the issue and return to the track of healthy growth for bilateral relations, he said.
Turning to the Iranian nuclear issue, Liu said China hopes IAEA Director-General Mohamed El Baradei's upcoming visit to Tehran would be beneficial to its peaceful solution.
"China hopes El Baradei will play a positive role in solving the issue within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency," he said.
El Baradei's visit has been viewed as a last-ditch effort to ease the escalating tension over Iran's nuclear issue. He is expected to submit a report on Iran's compliance with the UN Security Council's demand at the end of this month.
(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily April 12, 2006)