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Australia upbeat for further FTA talks with China
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Australia is positive about future Free Trade Agreement talks with China, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith said on Friday.

"We have shared aspirations when it comes to the Free Trade Agreement because it is in our respective economic and national interests," Smith told a press briefing after talking with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi.

Smith said both sides understood that Free Trade Agreement negotiations are "always complex, always difficult and often torturous", but there was "a strong view" that a Free Trade Agreement between Australia and China would be in both countries' economic interests.

China and Australia have had 13 rounds of talks since 2005. No date has been released as to when China and Australia will have the next Free Trade Agreement talk.

Smith, who began his China visit Tuesday, announced that Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean will be in Beijing next week and he will meet with the Chinese Minister of Agriculture.

"Agriculture is of course one of the areas of great importance to China. We hope that the conversations between Mr. Crean and the Agricultural Minister of China will be productive," Smith said.

During his visit, Smith also announced a further donation of 275,000 Australian dollars to assist reconstruction in China's quake-hit areas. The additional funding will support six projects in Sichuan and neighbouring Gansu Province.

This was the first visit to China since Smith took office as Foreign Minister in 2007. He concluded his visit Friday afternoon.

(Xinhua News Agency March 27, 2009)

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