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ROK president to visit China in July for first foreign tour
( 2003-06-27 07:14) (China Daily)

The President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Roh Moo-hyun will visit China from July 7 to 10, his first since coming to power last December, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan announced Thursday.

Over the years the two nations have maintained high-level exchanges and have witnessed rapid development of their economic relations with still great potential remaining, said the spokesman.

Beijing observers believe that Roh's visit is aimed at affirming the new governments' policy on development of bilateral relations.

"They are expected to establish objectives of bilateral co-operative partnership,'' said Piao Jianyi, executive-director of the Centre for Korean Peninsula Issues Studies at the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, which is part of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The two countries agreed to build a co-operative partnership orientated towards the 21st century, during a visit by former President Kim Dae-jung to China in 1998.

"The main topic (of the forthcoming visit) is believed to be economic and trade co-operation,'' Piao said, adding that China may become the largest investment destination of the ROK.

Bilateral trade rose to US$44 billion last year, 22 per cent up on the previous year, while the figure for the first four months of this year has already hit US$18 billion, an increase of 46.9 per cent.

However, Piao indicated that the issue of China's chronic trade deficit with the ROK would be a major concern for China in developing bilateral economic ties.

"Both sides are also expected to reaffirm their stance on the nuclear issue of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea,'' Piao said.

Also Thursday, Kong said that China welcomes Iran's positive attitude on the issue of signing an additional protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

"It (a positive attitude) will help reduce the suspicions of the international community on the relevant questions,'' said Kong.

Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, an Iranian government spokesman said on Monday that his country is committed to all treaties that can make the world more peaceful.

He also welcomed the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) call for building more transparency and confidence among the international community about Iran's nuclear programmes.

The IAEA has asked Iran to sign an additional protocol to the NPT, and one which will pave the way for visits to the country's nuclear plants by United Nations inspectors.

The spokesman also announced that Vice-Premier Wu Yi, who is also minister of health, will attend the APEC Health Ministers' Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand tomorrow. The focus of the meeting is to discuss strengthening co-operation within APEC on fighting SARS, removing its impact on economy and promoting regional economic growth.

Kong also announced that Vanuatu's Prime Minister Nipake Edward Natapei will pay a working visit to China from June 30 to July 6 at the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao.

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