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Wen to Attend China-ASEAN Commemorative Summit
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Premier Wen Jiabao will attend a commemorative summit between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to be held on October 30 in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.


The summit meeting, held in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue relationship, will also be attended by leaders from ASEAN countries.


This will be the first such meeting held on Chinese soil. "This is a historic event in China-ASEAN relations," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said yesterday at the resumed regular press conference after the summer season.


Leaders from both sides will review the growth of China-ASEAN friendly ties, and lay out the future development of bilateral relations, Qin said, adding that the third China-ASEAN Expo, as well as the third China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, will also be held on the sidelines of the summit.


The ASEAN groups the nations of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


Qin said the third ministerial meeting of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum will be held from November 3-5 in Beijing.


The summit will focus on "friendship, peace, cooperation and development" between China and African nations.


Both Chinese and African leaders will review the achievements of Sino-African friendship and cooperation over the past 50 years, and blueprint future bilateral cooperation, Qin said, adding that leaders from both sides will enjoy a frank exchange of opinions on major international issues.


The Beijing summit comes after President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen toured several African countries in April and June respectively this year, Qin said.


The China-Africa Cooperation Forum has become an "important" and "efficient" mechanism for collective dialogue between the two sides since its launch in 2000, he said.


In another development, Christopher Hill, the US chief negotiator to the six-party Korean nuclear talks, arrived in Beijing yesterday afternoon from Tokyo, seeking fresh cooperation with Asian counterparts to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table. He will fly to Seoul Saturday.


Hill, the US assistant secretary of state, will meet with Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, the top delegate on the Chinese side, and assistant foreign ministers Cui Tiankai and He Yafei respectively during his stay in Beijing, Qin said.


Hill's last visit to China was in July, following an international outcry to Pyongyang's test-firing of several missiles. His current visit comes amid concerns that Pyongyang may be considering conducting a nuclear weapons test.


Hill was quoted as saying that he had no new information on a possible test by Pyongyang, but warned such a move could further destabilize the region.


Meanwhile, reports of a possible trip to China by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il were rejected by Qin. "As far as I know there is no such arrangement for him to visit," he said.


South Korean media said Kim may have crossed the border into China yesterday, coinciding with Hill's visit, to discuss the possibility of resuming the talks.


The speculation came as the US has asked China to pressure Pyongyang in returning to the negotiation table.


Qin explicitly reiterated China's opposition to sanctions, insisting that China believes the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should be brought about through diplomatic dialogue.


He said the six-party talks are an effective mechanism to solve the issue, urging all concerned parties to show sincerity and flexibility to push the talks forward.


The last round of the six-party talks ended in November without agreement. The parties involved signed a declaration in September 2005 calling for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.


The main stumbling-block has come from Pyongyang's refusal to return unless Washington-imposed financial sanctions are lifted.


Turning to the Iranian nuclear issue, Qin said Zhang Yan, director-general of the Foreign Ministry's Arms Control and Disarmament Department, will attend an international meeting in Berlin tomorrow.


He said China believes the meeting will help promote the international community's efforts to resume talks on the issue and achieve the goal of a peaceful solution.


When asked to comment on the news that the five Central Asian countries will sign a Central Asia nuclear weapons free zone treaty in Kazakhstan on September 8, Qin said China welcomes this move.


He said to establish a nuclear weapons free zone will help prevent nuclear proliferation and promote the nuclear disarmament process and ensure peace, security and stability in related regions.


Qin noted that China and the five Central Asian countries -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan -- share traditional friendly and cooperative relations and benefit from mutual understanding on international and regional issues.


Also at yesterday's news briefing, Qin said Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi will visit China from September 13 to 18, and Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom will visit from September 11 to 13.


(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily September 6, 2006)

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