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FM to pay official visit to DPRK
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-19 01:11

Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will pay an official visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) from March 23 to 25 at the invitation of DPRK Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun.

It is the first official visit in five years paid by a Chinese Foreign Minister to the DPRK and it will be an important contact between the two countries, ministry spokesman Kong Quan said Thursday at a regular briefing.

The two sides will exchange views on Sino-DPRK relations and regional and international issues that are a concern to both, including the six-party talks on the nuclear issue in the Korean Peninsula, he added.

Kong also said that Republic of Korea (ROK) Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban Ki-moon will pay an official visit to China from March 28 to 30 at the invitation of Li.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Government is seriously concerned about the recent moves by some countries to unilaterally invite bidding on the exploration of oil and gas in a disputed area in the South China Sea, Kong said, declining to give more details. He also did not identify the countries involved.

Some international oil companies have reportedly said they will take part in bidding.

The Chinese Government hopes that countries involved will avoid making the situation in the South China Sea further complicated, Kong said.

He said the China has inarguable sovereignty rights over the Nansha archipelago and nearby sea areas.

The Chinese Government, based on the principle of "putting aside disputes and developing together,'' is willing to hold discussions with countries related to issues over the South China Sea, and ways to solve issues properly.

The Chinese side also hopes that companies related to the matter can respect the stand of the Chinese Government on such issues and will refrain from doing anything that harms China's sovereignty, rights and interests, Kong said.

Speaking of an ROK citizen who has been in prison in China due to charges of organizing illegal border crossings, Kong said the man, Seok Jae-hyun, will be released today.

The man was sentenced last May. In light of the friendship between China and the ROK and through certain judiciary means, it has been decided that the man canbe released ahead of the usual time.

However, Kong stressed, the release does not change the fact that Seok committed a crime.

He said ROK citizens are welcome to come to China to tour, do business and study, but added that all should abide by Chinese law.

He reiterated that the Chinese Government deals with illegal border crossers according to domestic law, international law and the humanitarian principles.

But any organizers of illegal border crossing will be punished in China, Kong added.

At the regular briefing Kong also announced that the 60th session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific will be held in Shanghai from April 22 to 28.

In addition, the High-Level International Conference on the Millennium Development Goals will be held in Beijing from March 25 to 27.

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