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China, Britain inaugurate strategic dialogue

China and Britain Tuesday inaugurated their first higher-level strategic dialogue during British Foreign Secretary David Miliband's visit to China.

Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Miliband co-chaired the dialogue, which was held at vice foreign minister level in the past.

"Elevating the strategic dialogue mechanism is a meaningful event," Dai said at the start of the talks, noting that the mechanism was an important channel for the two nations to make in-depth communication.

Dai hoped the two sides would make use of the mechanism to have candid discussion on strategic issues in bilateral and international relations.

"This will help us to increase mutual trust and respect, and to promote the stable and healthy growth of China-Britain ties," Dai said.

Miliband said the dialogue between the two nations "had always been strategic," and he was vary glad to see the elevation of the dialogue mechanism.

Miliband agreed with Dai that major countries should respect each other and enhance cooperation to shoulder common responsibilities.

Expressing appreciation for China's achievements in economic growth, Miliband said Britain welcomed China's contributions to the world economy.

Miliband hoped the two nations would increase cooperation in tackling climate change and in economic and security sectors.

Britain would work with China, on the basis of mutual respect, to push forward the bilateral strategic and cooperative partnership, he said.

Miliband is visiting China from March 14 to 17 as a guest of his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi.

During talks between the two foreign ministers earlier Tuesday, Yang said China-British relations were developing well, and lifting the level of the bilateral strategic dialogue would further promote bilateral relations.

"We are willing to work with Britain to further promote our comprehensive strategic partnership," Yang said.

He hoped the two nations would enhance communication and strengthen mutual understanding and mutual trust.

Yang also suggested the two nations address the financial crisis as an opportunity to actively explore cooperation in financial services, clean energy, renewable energy, energy saving and environmental protection, and to further expand investment and trade links.

Yang said the two countries should respect each other's core concerns, including those related to sovereignty and territorial integrity.

China and Britain should work together, in line with the principles of mutual respect and equality, to correctly view and properly handle differences, Yang said.

Miliband told Yang the Britain-China strategic partnership relations had maintained a sound momentum of development, and the two sides shared broad common interests and faced many common challenges.

Miliband is the first senior official from the British government to visit China this year after difficulties occured in bilateral ties at the end of last year.

The differences between the two sides should not affect the overall development of bilateral relations, Miliband said.

Miliband said Britain welcomed the inauguration of the strategic dialogue in a higher level, which was expected to "take our political cooperation to a new level."

Britain would work with China to increase economic cooperation and to jointly oppose trade protectionism, he said.

As to China-EU relations, Miliband said his country supported the European Union in promoting comprehensive strategic partnership with China.

The Iran nuclear issue was also on the agenda of Yang and Miliband. After the hour-long talks with Miliband, Yang said China hoped all parties would make concerted efforts to push for dialogue and negotiation by "adopting more constructive measures."