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FM: Vietnam Must Refrain from Infringing on Nansha Islands
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China on Tuesday upbraided Vietnam for actions taken on the Nansha Islands, expressing serious concerns in Beijing, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang told a press conference.

"China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands, their adjacent waters and neighboring marine areas," said Qin.

Qin made the comments, in response to Vietnam's plans to collaborate with British Petroleum (BP) in building a gas pipeline through the South China Sea and to hold local elections on the islands.

According to reports, the pipeline, estimated at around US$2 billion, would pump gas up from two new reserves to Vietnam's south coast although precise details have not yet been finalized.

Qin condemned any one-sided actions by any country in the waters as "illegal and invalid", directly violating Chinese territorial sovereignty, and the administrative rights of the islands.

Qin added that the South China Sea remained stable overall due to the efforts of all parties involved.

"Vietnam's new actions…go against the important consensus reached by leaders of the two countries on the maritime issue and threaten the stability of the South China Sea area," he cautioned.

Turning to the six-party talks, Qin said "(The difficulties are) natural given the nature of the talks, but these difficulties do not mean the talks have failed."

All parties remain determined to achieve a stable, nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and the normalization of diplomatic ties through constant negotiation, he added.

Despite progress in recent months, North Korea walked out of the talks last month after the agreed release of US$25 million that were frozen at Banco Delta Asia in Macao met with technical hitches.

The latest agreement had given Pyongyang 60 days to shut down its nuclear facilities in return for energy aid but the deadline falls next Saturday.

The US Treasury Department has repeatedly claimed that Macao authorities were willing to unblock the funds, a line the Macao SAR government has toed by saying they would work with all parties.

Qin turned to Bank of China as having the ball in its court, after it said it would need time to consider taking the funds, reneging on its earlier direct agreement.

"It is a publicly listed company and has to conform to its international obligations and laws," he explained. 

As for the Darfur issue, Qin asked Sudan once again to pacify Darfur through negotiations.

Qin's comments come as Chinese special envoy Zhai Jun's return to Beijing on Tuesday after a four-day tour of Sudan.

Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai met with Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir and other government officials before touring the Darfur refugee camps.

Zhai's meetings touched upon the peace plan proposed by former UN chief Kofi Annan, saying that China fully supports Annan's three-phase proposal, calling it realistic and feasible.

Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo consulted US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte on Monday evening about Darfur which led to Qin reiterating that China aims to make positive and constructive efforts to accomplish peace, stability and development in the region.

In terms of upcoming state visits, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz will come to China from April 16 to 20 at the invitation of Chinese Primer Wen Jiabao.

"We are looking forward to promoting good-neighborly and cooperative relations between China and Pakistan through Aziz's upcoming visit," said Qin.

He hoped both sides would achieve closer consensus and propel bilateral relations by engaging in a frank and wide-ranging exchange on major global and regional issues.

China and Pakistan are friendly neighbors, he said, adding that the bilateral friendship has never changed despite kaleidoscopic changes in international situation.

From April 20 to 21, Aziz will also attend the annual Bo'ao Forum for Asia (BFA) in Hainan Province, Qin added.

At the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Felipe Ramon Perez Roque will pay an official visit to China from April 15 to 18 while Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Goncz Kinga will also travel to China from April 14 to 19.

(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily April 11, 2007)

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