BEIJING - Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday met with former US President Jimmy Carter as the two nations marked the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties.
Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) speaks with former US president James Carter (L) during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing January 12, 2009. [Agencies]
"As old friends of the Chinese people, you played an important role in establishing China-US diplomatic ties and witnessed that historic decision," Hu told the Carter-led US delegation, which came here for commemorative events.
Thanks to the "ping-pong diplomacy" that melted the ice between the nations, then US President Richard Nixon paid a groundbreaking visit to China in 1972.
The two countries formally established diplomatic relations on January 1, 1979.
The US delegation to the Beijing celebrations included key figures in forging relations such as former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, National Security Advisors Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski and former US ambassadors.
"For a long time, whether in office or retired, you have made unremitting efforts in building the friendship between the two nations and developing the relationship. I highly appreciate those efforts," Hu said.
"For all American citizens, particularly for these leaders, this is a wonderful occasion to celebrate," Carter said.
Hu said it was in the fundamental interests of both nations to develop a constructive partnership.
The two countries should step up exchanges, enhance mutual trust, expand cooperation and promote the durable and stable growth of bilateral ties, Hu said.
"As the biggest developing nation and the biggest developed nation, China and the United States shoulder the common responsibilities of human peace and development," Hu said.
"The significance and impact of China-US ties go beyond a bilateral relationship."
Hu called for the two nations to review and deal with bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective and jointly respond to global challenges.
"It is natural for the two nations to be divided on some issues as the two practice different social systems, inherit different histories and cultures and are in a different phase of development."
Hu proposed that the two sides respect each other, properly address differences and problems and take into consideration each other's core interests so as to promote long-term, sound growth of bilateral ties.
Carter said earlier this week that he spent time with US President-elect Barack Obama and met with the current President George W. Bush and former Presidents George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton.
"I explained the purpose of this visit to President-elect Obama. He wants me to extend to you his personal greetings and his commitment to continue the mutual respect and partnership we've enjoyed over the past 30 years."
Carter said: "All of us, even including Deng Xiaoping, would have been amazed 30 years ago at the great changes that took place not only within your own country, but in the relationship between our two nations."
Carter proposed the two countries work more closely to address common challenges and promote world peace and development.