Visiting Chinese President Jiang Zemin Tuesday proposed to strengthen contacts with Tunisia at all levels, especially those high-level ones, so as to promote mutual understanding.
Jiang, who flew in Tunis earlier Tuesday from Abuja of Nigeria for a state visit, invited Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, in their talks here Tuesday afternoon, to visit China again next year.
Jiang hopes to open new areas for bilateral cooperation
He also suggested that the two countries continue to open up new areas for bilateral economic and trade cooperation, and explore new forms of cooperation to enrich bilateral relations.
The two sides should also strengthen consultations and coordination on international arena, in a bid to jointly safeguard the just rights of both sides and those of the developing nations, Jiang said.
He said his ongoing visit would serve to increase mutual understanding and trust, and help enhance the further growth of the Sino-Tunisian friendly ties of cooperation.
Speaking highly of bilateral cooperation, Jiang said since the two countries forged diplomatic ties 38 years ago and no matter how the international situation changes, both sides have always respected and supported each other, cooperated sincerely and joined hands in development and scored remarkable progress in political, economic, cultural and health-care sectors.
China and Tunisia, both as developing nations, have reached extensive consensus on major international and regional issues and cooperated in a good way, he said.
Describing the Tunisian people as China's sincere friends, Jiang said it is the Chinese government's set policy to strengthen the China-Tunisia friendly cooperation in an overall way.
At present, he said, the world multi-polarization and economic globalization are growing in an in-depth way and the two countries should further tighten cooperation to make bilateral ties score a new high in the new century.
On bilateral economic and trade ties, Jiang said the cooperation is expanding and both sides should continue to make joint efforts to explore new areas and new ways.
Ben Ali said the two countries have enjoyed a traditional friendship and the Tunisian people are developing a dear and respectful feeling towards the Chinese.
Since his last visit to China in 1991, bilateral relations are proceeding swiftly and he is convinced Jiang's visit will give bilateral friendly cooperation a new push, he said, adding he accepted Jiang's invitation to visit China again next year.
He said in the past years, China has made positive contributions to Tunisia's economic growth and Tunisian people thanked the Chinese people for their assistance projects in the country's remote areas in the fields of agriculture and infrastructure, which have helped improve the local living conditions and economic development.
He fully agreed upon Jiang's proposals on reinforcing bilateral ties, especially those on economic and trade cooperation, Ben Ali said, noting that the Tunisian side will collaborate with the Chinese side to make such cooperation better cater to bilateral political relationship.
During the talks, both sides briefed on their respective political and economic situation.
Jiang stressed that both China and Tunisia are exploring ways of development that better fit their own circumstances and one of China's successful experiences is to do a good job in handling the relations among the reform, development and stability.
Ben Ali said the Tunisian people should learn from China's successful experiences in developing its economy.
Both sides also exchanged views on international and regional issues, especially on the Middle East issues, and agreed to be against Israel's military strike against Palestine. They urged Israel to immediately implement relevant resolutions of the U.N. Security Council and pull out of the Palestinian areas.
Jiang noted that China, as permanent member of the Security Council, has always supported the Middle East peace process and made positive contributions to ease the regional tension.
China is ready to maintain close contacts and consultations with Arab nations, including Tunisia, to continue to contribute to an early settlement of the Middle East issues.
After the talks, the two sides signed seven documents, respectively on China's offering of interest-free loan to Tunisia, economic and technological cooperation, maritime transportation, civil aviation transportation, avoidance of double taxation and prevention of evasion with respect to tax, implementation plan of cultural cooperation for the years of 2002, 2003 and 2004, as well as China's sending medical team to work in Tunisia.
The two leaders both presided over the signing ceremony. In the evening, Ben Ali hosted a banquet in Jiang's honor.
Tunisia is the fourth leg of Jiang's two-week five-nation trip, which will finally take him to Iran on April 18. Jiang had just ended his state visit to Germany, Libya and Nigeria.
(Xinhua News Agency April 17, 2002)