CEBU, THE PHILIPPINES: China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) agreed yesterday
to speed up the research phase of the effort to create a China-ROK free trade
The agreement was announced after Premier Wen Jiabao met with ROK President
Roh Moo-hyun on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit.
Wen said China and the ROK are friendly neighbors and share a common interest
in promoting regional peace and development. He also said both countries play
lead roles in maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic
relations between the two countries. The two sides are planning to mark the
occasion by holding China-ROK "Year of Exchange" activities.
Roh said his country would use the opportunity to promote high-level visits
and increase economic cooperation.
Seoul is ready to speed up the consultation process leading to the
establishment of an FTA and to work to balance bilateral trade, he said.
Also yesterday, Wen met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and New
Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.
During his meeting with Singh, Wen said that because China and India are the
world's biggest developing countries and two of Asia's most influential nations,
their relations are of global significance.
"We consider India as an important cooperative partner and the development of
India is beneficial to China, so we welcome India's growth," he said.
Singh rated Sino-Indian relations highly, saying the development of the two
countries would create opportunities for both sides.
Both agreed to speed up negotiations on outstanding border issues and to work
together on regional and international affairs.
During his meeting with Clark, Wen said China values relations with New
Zealand and considers it an important partner in the South Pacific region.
Talks on creating a China-New Zealand FTA are progressing, he said.
"Both sides should demonstrate flexibility and pragmatism and properly handle
the differences and difficulties to continue to push for the progress of the
In response, Clark said her country was ready to accept the principle of
mutual understanding and to push FTA negotiations.
(China Daily 01/15/2007 page6)