Japan visit date 'still to be fixed'

By Le Tian (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-29 07:00

The Foreign Ministry said yesterday Chinese leaders would visit Japan at a convenient time next year, but stopped short of confirming a report which said Premier Wen Jiabao would visit Tokyo in April.

"China and Japan have agreed in principle Chinese leaders will visit Japan at a time convenient for both sides," the ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular news briefing yesterday. "But the specific date for the visit has yet to be set through diplomatic consultations."

A Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported on Wednesday that Wen is set to visit Japan in April - the first such visit in more than six years.

The Asian neighbours hope the visit will improve bilateral ties, which deteriorated to their worst level in decades over former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to a controversial Tokyo war shrine, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said in its evening edition.

"We have noticed the report," Qin said. "Related information will be released immediately we get it."

Referring to a question about whether Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is set to visit China, Qin said he does not have any information.

"China and Israel have exchanges and co-operation at various levels and in various fields," Qin said. "We have had no information about the Israeli leader's visit to China. If any, we will make it public at a proper time."

At the news briefing, Qin also spoke highly of the efforts made by the Secretary-General of Shanghai Co-operation Organization (SCO) Zhang Deguang, who will conclude his three-year term at the end of this year. Bolat Nurgaliyev from Kazakhstan will succeed Zhang next year.

"During Zhang's three-year term, the SCO secretariat worked in an efficient, orderly and co-ordinated manner," Qin said.

Currently, political mutual trust has been intensified among the SCO members while pragmatic co-operation has been deepening, and the influence of the organization on the international community has been rising, he said.

(China Daily 12/29/2006 page2)

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