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China-Croatia ties tightened
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China hopes to foster friendly and cooperative relations with countries in south east Europe, President Hu Jintao said while meeting the press along with Croatian President Stjepan Mesic on Saturday at the Croatian presidential palace.

He added such relations constitute an important part of China's policies toward Europe. 

Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) shakes hands with his Croatian counterpart Stjepan Mesic during their meeting in Zagreb, capital of Croatia, June 20, 2009. [Rao Aimin/Xinhua] 

The meeting of the press was held after Hu and Mesic completed two rounds of talks, which focused on a wide range of bilateral and international issues, and witnessed the signing of three intergovernmental agreements on the further development of economic and technological cooperation, civilian flights, as well as plans for collaboration in public health and science.

"China understands the efforts of the countries in the region for European integration," Hu said, adding China has always "respected sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries in southeastern Europe and the development model chosen by the people in each country".

China is happy that Croatia is making headway in joining the European Union, he said.

"I believe by joining the European Union, Croatia will create new opportunities for growth not only for Croatia but also other countries in the region while opening new space to cultivate the relations between China and the southeastern European nations."

Praising Chinese-Croatian relations as a fine example for mutual respect between two nations with different civilizations and social systems, Hu said the countries needed to advance their relations by enhancing political trust and maintaining dialogue between governments and legislatures, as well as among political parties.

Hu also proposed increasing the two people's exchanges in education, public health, sports and tourism. He invited 50 Croatian young people to visit China next year.

The two presidents spent a lot of time talking about how to cope with the global financial crisis, which has affected both countries.

Chinese President Hu Jintao (2nd R, front), accompanied by his Croatian counterpart Stjepan Mesic (1st R, front), reviews the honour guard during the welcome ceremony hosted by Stjepan Mesic in Zagreb, capital of Croatia, June 20, 2009. [Rao Aimin/Xinhua] 

Mesic said Croatia is willing to coordinate with China in dealing with the crisis, adding that his country is willing to serve as China's gateway for eastern Europe.

To reduce the impact of the crisis, the two countries should actively expand economic and trade ties and cultivate new growth, Hu said.

While China encourages Chinese firms to start joint ventures in airport and port construction, ship-building, telecommunications and medicines, Hu said, Croatian businesses should become "more adventurous" in exploring Chinese markets so "trade between the two countries will achieve a balanced growth".

To make the bilateral relations even better, "we have a lot of work to do," Mesic said. "Although Croatia cannot become a partner of the whole country, it can still become a partner of a region in China or an industry. We must develop our own conviction and perseverance."

In the wake of Hu's visit, some 200 Chinese business people came to Croatia. Along with some 300 Croatian counterparts, they attended a Croatian-Chinese Business Forum, at which both presidents gave keynote speeches.

On Saturday, Hu also held talks with Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader and President of the Parliament Luka Bebic.

(China Daily June 22, 2009)

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