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Merkel Pledges to Continue Close Tie with China

German chancellor-designate Angela Merkel pledged in Berlin Monday to continue close ties with China forged by outgoing Gerhard Schroeder and his predecessor Helmut Kohl.


"Ties with China are important," said Merkel, who confirmed her chancellorship hours ago.


She said the upgrading of Berlin's relations to China, begun by Kohl and expanded under Schroeder from 1998 to 2005, would continue under her leadership.


Merkel noted that the early German elections had forced her to cancel a planned visit to Beijing.


When asked about the direction of Germany's relations with the US under her leadership, she said that transatlantic relations are an important issue and of interest for Germany. 


"That doesn't mean we have to agree on every issue, but it needs to be a good, trustful relationship," she added.


On Turkey's EU membership, Merkel did not repeat her appeals to give Turkey "privileged partnership" instead of full membership.


"Negotiations have begun and will take a long time. We will have to wait and see," she said, referring to talks between Ankara and the EU starting on October 3.


Merkel will start formal coalition talks with Schroeder's Social Democratic Party next week.


The new government is expected to be formally formed by late November.


(Xinhua News Agency October 11, 2005)

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