State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, special envoy to President Hu Jintao, attended the funeral of Turkmenistan's late president Saparmurat Niyazov in the Turkmen capital city on Sunday.
On behalf of President Hu, the Chinese government and people, Tang expressed deep-felt condolences over the death of Niyazov and extended sincere sympathy to the government and people of Turkmenistan and the president's family.
Tang, describing Niyazov as a great leader deeply loved and respected by the Turkmen people as well as a friend of the Chinese people, said China will, as always, respect and support Turkmenistan's efforts to safeguard its national sovereignty and independence and to develop national economy.
China will also respect and support the policy of permanent neutralism upheld by Turkmenistan, Tang said.
China, attaching great importance to the Sino-Turkmen relations, will steadfastly make joint efforts with Turkmenistan to promote the friendly cooperation relations between the two countries, Tang stressed.
On his part, Turkmenistan's Acting President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov expressed gratitude to President Hu for dispatching his special envoy to attend the funeral.
He said Turkmenistan will continue its friendly policy to China set forth by Niyazov in a bid to deepen the bilateral cooperation with mutual benefit.
Berdymukhamedov, senior Turkmen officials and Niyazov's family members as well as heads of state, government leaders and special envoys from over 20 countries attended the funeral.
After the funeral, Niyazov's body was buried in his home village of Kipchak near Ashgabat. Tang also attended the burial ceremony.
Niyazov, 66, died early Thursday of a heart attack. He had been leading the energy-rich country since 1985.
After his death, Turkmen Security Minister Lt. Gen. Geldimukhammed Ashirmukhammedov has vowed to maintain calm and stability in the Central Asian country and to continue implementing policies set forth by Niyazov.
(Xinhua News Agency December 25, 2006)