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US, N. Korea Talks Lauded by China
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China welcomes the Berlin meeting between top US and North Korean negotiators relating to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.


"We hope the conversations create conditions for the early resumption and real progress of the six-party talks," ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular news briefing.


Liu said China has always supported direct contacts between the US and North Korea, and hoped for positive results.


China will continue making efforts and maintaining close contacts with other parties to push forward the talks, he added.


US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill met his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye-gwan in Berlin on Tuesday and Wednesday. The bilateral meetings delved into how to best resume the six-party talks, aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions.


Liu said he is expecting Hill to visit Beijing this weekend, as another round of shuttle diplomacy starts off between Germany, Japan, China and South Korea, although he added no further information on whether the US and North Korea would hold financial talks in Beijing.


Kidnapped workers released in Nigeria


Liu confirmed that five kidnapped Chinese telecom workers in Nigeria were released safely on January 17 (local time).


"We are happy with this result that was achieved after arduous efforts," he said, adding that the Chinese government appreciates support and assistance of the parties concerned in Nigeria.


Response to ministry upgrade


Liu yesterday also urged Japan to continue efforts to improve and develop bilateral ties instead of stirring trouble.


Liu was responding to Japan's recent upgrading of its Defense Agency to Defense Ministry as well as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent talks with his British counterpart Tony Blair in which Abe asserted lifting the EU arms embargo on China would impact security in Asia.


Liu stressed that Japan's adherence to the road of peaceful development conforms to its fundamental interests and benefits regional peace, stability and development.


He noted that Japan's concern over the EU's plan to lift its arms embargo on Beijing "is none of Japan's business and will not impose any threat to the country."


State visits


President Hu Jintao will visit Sudan and South Africa in the near future as part of an eight-nation trip to Africa to broaden China's reach and strengthen ties with the continent. Liu said that dates and detailed arrangements for the trip were still being negotiated, but would soon be announced.


The tour may start at the end of the month. The South African Foreign Ministry has said the country will receive the president in early February.


It will be Hu's third trip to the continent, following trips to three African countries in 2004 and another three in April last year.


Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing has just concluded a seven-nation African tour. He returned on January 8.


China's diplomatic drive in Africa culminated last November with Beijing hosting a China-Africa Summit that drew leaders from more than 40 African nations.


According to the spokesman, State Councilor Hua Jianmin will attend the 2007 annual conference of the World Economic Forum set for Davos, Switzerland, and visit Austria and Greece. Hua's European tour will last from January 24 to February 2.


Liu also announced that South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon will visit China from January 25 to 27, and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet will visit from January 24 to 26.


(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily January 19, 2007)

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