Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing Addresses Opening Ceremony of the 14th SAARC Summit
On April 3, 2007, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing delivered a speech at the opening ceremony of the 14th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). In his speech, Li noted that China is ready to expand cooperation with SAARC based on the principles of equality, mutual trust, and win-win cooperation, to promote peace and stability of South Asia.
Li said South Asia is an important part of Asia. The South Asian countries are committed to peace and development, the region is enjoying fast and sustained economic growth and positive progress has been made in regional cooperation, Li pointed out. South Asia's international standing is also rising, he added.
"SAARC, as an important organization for regional cooperation, has played an active role in promoting social and economic development as well as peace and stability in South Asia," Li said. SAARC has a bright future with continued institutional development, accelerated process of cooperation and faster opening-up pace, said Li.
Li said China has always been committed to advancing regional economic cooperation and has paid close attention to and supported the cooperation process of SAARC. China welcomes and appreciates the decision by the association to accept it as an observer, said Li. "The Chinese government supports the objectives and priority areas of SAARC," Li said. "China respects the aspiration of SAARC countries and the principles of equality, mutual trust and win-win cooperation, and is ready to carry out exchanges and expand practical cooperation with SAARC to contribute to the cooperation process of SAARC as well as peace and development in South Asia," he said. Li said China is ready to discuss with SAARC the possibility of establishing a cooperation mechanism for poverty alleviation and of establishing a China-SAARC regular meeting mechanism for cooperation on disaster relief and mitigation to share experience and information. China is also willing to strengthen cooperation on human resources training, personnel contacts and academic exchanges with SAARC countries and enhance collaboration with those countries in the sectors such as infrastructure construction, economy and trade, and energy based on equality and mutual benefits.
Li emphasized that China and SAARC countries all belong to the developing world and both sides enjoy deep traditional friendship and a firm foundation for bilateral cooperation. The cooperation between China and SAARC is in the interest of both sides, as well as peace, stability and development of this region, added Li.
SAARC, consisting of all eight South Asian countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, was established in 1985 with a total population of 1.46 billion. Currently SAARC has accepted China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), the United States, and the European Union as observers. During the summit held in India from April 3 to 4, eight SAARC countries will focus their discussions on enhancing transportation links in South Asia and cooperation on anti-terrorism. SAARC countries also expressed hope to carry out cooperation with observers on trade, anti-terrorism, society and economy.