EU urged to lift 16-year China arms embargo
China yesterday urged the European Union to lift its 16-year-old arms embargo on the country, calling the ban an obstacle to better relations.
Liu reiterated Beijing's position that it was not interested in buying weapons from Europe, but was only seeking respect as a "strategic partner" of the EU. "We are not aiming at importing arms from the EU. As strategic co-operative partners we hope, on the basis of equality and mutual respect, to further our relations with the EU and we hope the EU will honour its political commitments and remove the arms embargo," he said.
The EU scrapped its end-of-June target date for ending the embargo and did not set a new deadline at a meeting of the 25-nation bloc's foreign ministers on Monday in Luxembourg.
"There's a lot of work to be done still," EU foreign-policy chief Javier Solana said. "There's no consensus" on removing the restrictions, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said.
France and Germany are leading calls to end the ban and European leaders last December expressed the decision to draft an accord on removing the embargo by the end of June.
However, strident opposition from the United States and an Anti-Secession Law passed by China in March have appeared to halt efforts to do away with the ban, experts say.
"The major obstacle is the pressure from the United States, which has lobbied publicly and privately against lifting the ban, citing China as a threat in the region," said Gu Junli, director of the European Research Centre of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Meanwhile, the issue has proved divisive within the EU, Gu acknowledged, saying that some European countries are nervous of a growing China.
ROK PM visit
Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan of the Republic of Korea will visit Beijing next week at the invitation of his counterpart Wen Jiabao. Lee will meet with President Hu Jintao and top legislator Wu Bangguo, Liu announced yesterday.
"They are expected to have an in-depth discussion on the nuclear standoff on the Korean Peninsula," Liu told the regular press briefing in Beijing.
Despite the recent flurry of international diplomacy aimed at getting the Democratic People's Republic of Korea back to the negotiating table, there were still no dates or deadlines for resuming Six-Party Talks on the nuclear issue, involving Beijing, Pyongyang, Washington, Seoul, Moscow and Tokyo, Liu said.
(China Daily 06/15/2005 page2)