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Chinese, British foreign ministers reach broad consensus 
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Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi held talks with his British counterpart David Miliband in Beijing on Thursday, reaching a broad consensus on advancing bilateral and international cooperation.

Calling bilateral ties "better than ever", Yang said China-Britain relations were facing new opportunities. The two sides should work together to implement the agreements reached between the two leaders and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation.

Yang said the talks with Miliband were "constructive" and "productive". The two sides agreed to continue to maintain high-level exchange of visits, further promote political mutual trust, continue to conduct dialogue on human rights and other areas.

The two countries also pledged to increase trade and the scale of mutual investment, strengthen cooperation on finance, education, science and technology, culture and the Olympics and boost youth exchanges, Yang said.

Hailing the remarkable achievements made in China, Miliband expressed the wish to conduct more cooperation and exchanges with China.

He backed the Beijing Olympics, saying the games should not be used to pressure Beijing over its human rights record, and a successful Olympics accorded with the interests of Britain and the world at large.

"We believe that the Olympics are an opportunity to celebrate the progress that has been achieved in China," he told reporters after the talks with Yang.

"From our point of view, engagement, not isolation, is the right way forward," he said.

Yang and Miliband agreed that the two countries would work closely on major international and regional issues with regard to enhancing the UN's role in peacekeeping and reconstruction, promoting more effective non-proliferation and substantial international efforts on reducing carbon emissions.

The two sides would promote China-EU cooperation and jointly face the challenges and opportunities of globalization and early realization of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

In the talks that also covered Darfur, the Iranian nuclear issue and dialogue between developed and developing countries, the two ministers decided to hold bilateral high-level African talks later in the year.

In response to questions of democracy in China, Yang said people in China enjoyed extensive freedom of speech.

"No one will get arrested because he has said human rights were more important than the Olympic Games. This is impossible," he said.

He said China, like many other countries, needed to further improve human rights and conduct dialogues with other countries on the issue on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

Yang stressed Beijing's constructive role in Darfur, highlighting its quick dispatch of peacekeepers and development assistance to Sudan, and the appointment of a special representative on Darfur.

But he warned outsiders had limited influence with the government there.

"Of course, Darfur in essence is a Sudan issue and an African issue. Neither China nor Britain is a direct partner so we should respect the views of other partners," Yang said.

Beijing was Miliband's last leg of his first official visit to China starting on February 24 from Hong Kong. He met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Thursday afternoon, and will deliver a speech at prestigious Peking University on Friday.

His six-day China trip also took him to Shanghai, a financial hub in the east and Chongqing, a city in southwest China.

(Xinhua News Agency February 29, 2008)

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