US Defense Secretary Robert Gates will visit China from November 4 to 6 at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Cao Gangchuan, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao said Thursday at a regular press conference.
Gates is expected to meet with Chinese state and military leaders and exchange views on international and regional security, bilateral and military relations, and other major issues of mutual concern, Liu said.
"We believe Gates' upcoming trip is an important event in Sino-US relations this year, and attach great importance to it," Liu said.
China hopes the visit will help strengthen understanding and trust between the two militaries in a bid to promote healthy development of bilateral ties, the spokesman added.
It will be Gates' first China trip since becoming defense secretary in December of last year.
China to attend London meeting on Iran nuclear issue
China will attend a six-nation meeting on the Iranian nuclear issue, scheduled for November 2 in London, said Liu.
Zhang Yan, director-general of the Foreign Ministry's Department of Arms Control, will represent China at the meeting that Britain, France, Germany, the US, and Russia will also attend.
"We insist on safeguarding the current international non-proliferation system and a peaceful solution through diplomatic negotiations to the Iranian nuclear issue," said Liu.
He said China has actively participated in relevant consultation and work with the UN and the other five countries on the Iran nuclear issue.
"At present, the Iran nuclear issue is becoming a very difficult situation. We hold that under current conditions, all concerned parties should make efforts in the way of peaceful negotiation and dialogues," said Liu.
"China encourages Iran to further strengthen contacts and consultation with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), and we also support Iran having contacts with the EU, to promote the development of the issue towards a peaceful solution," said Liu.
US experts head for N Korea
A working group of US experts left Beijing Thursday for North Korea in preparation for disabling nuclear facilities early next week.
Sung Kim, director of the US State Department's Office of Korea Affairs and leader of the 9-member team, told reporters at a hotel in downtown Beijing that the main focus of their trip is "to go there and get (disablement) started as soon as possible."
"As soon as we are set up in Yongbyon we will begin. Hopefully early next week," Kim said.
The team, comprised of officials from the US Energy Department as well as scientists and technicians, is scheduled to stay in North Korea for one or two weeks and then another team will replace them, according to Kim, who also voiced the hope of disablement being "accomplished before the end of this year."
"We had pretty good understanding to disable the three facilities in Yongbyon this year," Kim said.
Top envoys from North Korea and the US discussed the disablement issue on Wednesday and how they would progress before the end of the year.
Two days of working-level talks involving China, North and South Korea, the US, Russia, and Japan ended on Tuesday at the truce village of Panmunjom.
Attendants mainly discussed the next-stage of assistance to North Korea and achieved consensus. China's Ambassador for the Korean Peninsula Issue Chen Naiqing and other Chinese officials joined the meeting, according to Liu.
The working group is one of five established under the February deal. Others work on the denuclearization of North Korea, the establishment of a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, and the normalization of Pyongyang's diplomatic ties with Washington and Tokyo.
Attempt to sabotage stability and development in Tibet doomed to fail
Any attempt by any person by any means to sabotage stability and development in Tibet is doomed to fail, Liu said, adding the Dalai Lama is a political exile who is attempting to separate the motherland.
According to Liu, certain countries and persons showed interest in the Dalai Lama for two reasons. "Some people have been misled by him, while some hope to change something through him," he said. "Actually, they can change nothing," Liu stressed.
No one "can change the firm determination of the Chinese people, including the Tibetan people, to safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, nor can they change China's determination to engage in development, stability, and prosperity in Tibet," he said.
In response to a question on the proposed December meeting between the Pope and the Dalai Lama, Liu said that China urged the Vatican not to do anything which will hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, and he urged the Vatican to show its sincerity in improving ties with China through earnest acts.
Certain actions taken by certain countries on the Dalai Lama issue have already brought damage to their ties with China, he said. Moreover, these acts "will further undermine their image in the minds of the Chinese people and also their credibility in observing basic norms of international relations," he said.
He hoped relevant parties would face the problem and stop interfering in China's internal affairs, in an effort to maintain bilateral ties with concrete acts.
Slovenian PM to visit China
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa will pay an official visit to China from November 8 to 11 at the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao, Liu announced.
(Xinhua News Agency November 2, 2007)