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Asian Parliamentary Leaders Meet in Beijing
Over 400 parliamentary representatives from 39 Asian nations attended the opening session of the third annual meeting of the Association of Asian Parliaments for Peace (AAPP) Tuesday.

In a congratulatory letter to the meeting, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who is on a five-nation visit abroad, offered a warm welcome to Asian parliamentary leaders and members of parliaments attending the meeting.

Jiang said China is willing to work with other countries to strive for a peaceful, progressive, prosperous and beautiful world.

Among those attending the opening ceremony were 33 speakers and deputy speakers of parliaments from Asian countries. China's top legislator Li Peng and Vice President Hu Jintao attended the ceremony.

"It is of great and far-reaching significance that we define this annual session with 'Peace and Development' as its main theme, " said Li, chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

"Peace and development of mankind still face many challenges. The stability and prosperity of Asia have been a great contribution to the peace, stability and development of the world, " Li Peng said.

"Due to various factors, Asian nations are still encountering some political and economic difficulties of varying degrees," he said, adding that he is confident of the prospect of Asia.

"I am confident that as long as we Asian nations give full play to our advantages, continue to carry forward our fine traditions of the oriental civilization and in the meantime enhance our cooperation and mutual assistance, we will achieve new and still greater progress and development," Li Peng said.

During his speech, Li called for enhanced exchanges between parliaments of Asian countries in building democracy and legal systems so as to promote the rule of law and economic development.

He also called on Asian parliaments to strengthen cooperation in regional and global affairs so as to facilitate a just and reasonable settlement of regional and international issues.

Addressing the ceremony, Norodom Ranarith, president of the Cambodian National Assembly and president of the AAPP, said the AAPP as an important regional parliamentary organization will play great role in contributing to the well-being and social development of the region.

In a letter of congratulations, Najma Heptulla, president of the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU), said the last quarter of the previous century witnessed a phenomenal revival of Asian power. He said that with the ensuing globalization Asia has emerged as a major focus of world economy.

"I firmly believe affairs of a country should be decided by its people and world affairs by all the countries through consultations on an equal footing. It is the sovereign right of each country to choose its path of development," said the IPU president.

The AAPP was formally launched in September 1999 in Dacca, capital of Bangladesh, and now has 36 member countries.

(Xinhua News Agency April 17, 2002)

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