The United States and Albania should repatriate the five 'Eastern Turkistan' terrorist suspects as quickly as possible, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said at Tuesday's regular press conference in Beijing.
The US government announced last Saturday it had freed five Chinese Uygur Muslims from the Guantanamo Bay detention center and allowed them to go to Albania as refugees.
"The five people accepted by Albania are by no means refugees but 'Eastern Turkistan' terrorist suspects," Liu said.
"I think they should be repatriated to China," Liu said. "The actions of the US and Albanians are a gross violation of international law and a UN resolution. We are strongly opposed to this.
"We have made strong representations and urged them to repatriate the five terrorist suspects to China as soon as possible," he said.
The 'Eastern Turkistan' people were part of an international terrorist grouping which had close contacts with Al Qaida and Taliban, he said.
He added that strengthening international cooperation in combating terrorism was in the best interests of China and other countries. Liu said he hoped those involved could strengthen such cooperation and not allow it to weaken.
With respect to Sino-Japanese relations, Liu said the two sides agreed to hold a fifth round of talks on the East China Sea issues in mid May.
Earlier this year Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, said the two countries have disputes over the demarcation of the East China Sea with China's view being that such disputes should be handled through consultations.
Early reports said Japan would never accept China's suggestion on jointly exploring potential resources in the East China Sea. It was also suggested that Japan may take confrontational measures if China conducted oil and gas exploration in the East China Sea.
China on April 21 once again stressed that it didn't accept Japan's unilateral claim of the so-called "median line" in the East China Sea.
Liu said Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo and Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Shotaro Yachi, who headed the two delegations, discussed the possibility of a meeting between the two Foreign Ministers.
Jin Linbo, a professor with the China Institute of International Studies, said results of the strategic dialogue, the fifth in a year, sent out a positive signal against the backdrop of strained China-Japan ties.
"Such a mechanism works as an important channel for the two countries which have no high-level contacts to exchange ideas," he said.
Since October 2004 the two countries have convened four rounds of consultations on East China Sea issues. The last round of talks were held in Beijing in March this year.
Spokesman Liu said previous talks showed that China and Japan were still greatly divided on East China Sea issues and the situation was "rather complicated".
Despite great differences Liu said China and Japan were still willing to solve problems through consultation and to find a final solution.
"Such consultations are helpful," he said.
On the possible meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso on the sidelines of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue to be held in Qatar on May 23 and 24, Liu declined to give a clear answer, simply saying, "It would depend on the result of consultation."
Leaders of the two countries have suspended exchanges since Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro began paying homage at the controversial Yasukuni war shrine soon after he took office in 2001. The two Foreign Ministers have rarely had contact.
Liu said China had taken the opportunity to elaborate its position on bilateral ties and urged Japan to work with China to remove the political obstacles which prevented ties from improving.
He said Vice-Foreign Minister Dai pointed out that Japan should take corresponding measures to work with China to reach the common goal.
The Chinese government on Tuesday pledged that if elected to the UN Human Rights Council it would help reinforce efforts to promote and protect human rights worldwide.
Sixty-four countries, including China, are in the running for the 47 seats on the new UN Human Rights Council in Tuesday's election at the UN General Assembly.
"The Chinese government has always been dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights and basic freedoms and has participated in international dialogue and cooperation on human rights," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said.
Liu said the government supported the Council's efforts in handling human rights issues fairly, objectively and impartially and in promoting constructive dialogue and cooperation among different civilizations, cultures and religions.
Under UN rules, to ensure true global representation, Africa and Asia will each have 13 seats; Latin America and the Caribbean eight seats; Western Europe (including the North American and Oceanian developed nations) seven and Eastern Europe six.
On the Iranian nuclear issue Liu said diplomatic means remained the best option for a solution of the issue.
"The Iranian nuclear issue now stands at a critical moment," said Liu. "We urge all parties concerned to remain sober-minded, patient and restrained, show flexibility and refrain from worsening the situation." Diplomatic talks were in the interests of all concerned, Liu acknowledged.
Liu also reiterated that the Chinese government had always disapproved of the use of sanctions or force in international affairs. The Chinese side hoped that the relevant parties would go on taking a constructive attitude and resolve the Iranian nuclear issue peacefully by diplomatic means.
Last Wednesday, France and Britain backed by the United States, proposed a new draft resolution to the UN Security Council demanding Iran suspend all enrichment activities immediately or face possible sanctions.
The draft invokes Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, under which the council can resort to economic and diplomatic sanctions or even military action, to ensure its decisions are implemented.
After intensive discussions on Monday the foreign ministers of China, the United States, Russia, Britain, France and Germany failed to reach agreement on the draft UN resolution.
Liu also announced on Tuesday that foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a five-year-old, six-member regional organization, would gather in Shanghai next Monday for their annual meeting.
"The foreign ministers will attend the regular meeting of the SCO Foreign Ministers' Council which will pave the way for the SCO summit scheduled for mid June in Shanghai," Liu said.
"The foreign ministers will discuss how to deepen SCO cooperation in all fields and confer on international and regional issues of common concern," the spokesman said.
Dubbed a new model of regional cooperation the SCO is made up of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
On state visits, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will pay official visits to Mexico, the Bahamas, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain from May 17 to 25. He will also stop over in Mauritania.
During his visit to Mexico and Qatar, Li will attend the second meeting of the China-Mexico Permanent Bi-national Commission and the fifth FM meeting of Asia Cooperation Dialogue respectively, the spokesman said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Viktorovich Lavrov will pay an official visit to China on May 15 and 16.
Liu said Lavrov would attend a regular meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member countries which was scheduled for May 15 in Shanghai.
Chinese leaders and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing would meet with Lavrov for an exchange of views on bilateral ties and international and regional issues of common interest.
Tajikistan Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov would pay an official visit to China from May 11 to 18 as a guest of his Chinese counterpart Li Zhaoxing, Liu said.
During his stay in China, the spokesman said, Nazarov would attend the annual meeting of the Foreign Ministers' Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which is slated for May 15 in Shanghai.
(Xinhua News Agency May 10, 2006)