Foreign Ministry Officials on Premier Zhu Rongji's Upcoming Visit to Three Countries in Asia and Africa
On April 10, Deputy Director-General Huang Jiemin of the Department of West Asian and North African Affairs and Deputy Director-General Lin Lin of the Department of African Affairs held a briefing on Premier Zhu Rongji's upcoming visit to Turkey, Egypt and Kenya at the International Press Center (IPC). About 40 foreign resident correspondents in Beijing and information officers of foreign diplomatic missions in China attended the briefing.
Mr. Huang and Mr. Lin first briefed the audience on relevant information of Premier Zhu's visit and bilateral relations between China and the three countries.
Huang said that Premier Zhu Rongji will visit Turkey and Egypt from April 15 to 23. The visit is to return the visits to China by Turkish and Egyptian leaders, and the first one by a Chinese premier in more than a decade. During the visit, Premier Zhu will hold a series of important meetings with Turkish prime minister, acting president and speaker of the parliament, Egyptian president, prime minister, speaker of the parliament and chairman of the consultative council, the secretary-general of the League of Arab States and other top leaders of the two countries. They will explore new ways and channels to expand bilateral cooperation under new circumstances. Besides, Premier Zhu will meet extensively the business communities in the two countries, and give a speech on China's economic situation and China's plans to develop economic cooperation and trade with the two countries. China will also sign agreements with Turkey and Egypt on cooperation in the Customs, telecommunications, agriculture, economic technology and other fields. Huang said that China, Turkey and Egypt are ancient civilizations. China and the two countries have traditional friendship. The friendly relations and cooperation between China and the two countries in political, economic, trade and cultural fields are developing smoothly. In 1999, President Jiang Zemin and Egyptian President Mubarak jointly decided upon China-Egypt strategic cooperative relationship oriented towards the 21st century. In 2000, President Jiang Zemin and Turkish President Demirel jointly set China-Turkey closer partnership of cooperation oriented towards the new century. Afterwards, the relations between China and the two countries have entered a new stage of development. Premier Zhu's upcoming visit is to further implement the consensus reached by President Jiang Zemin and the two heads of state and promote the relations between China and the two countries.
Mr. Lin said that the third leg of Premier Zhu's visit is Kenya. This will be a first visit to Kenya by a Chinese premier since 1983, and another important visit to Africa by Chinese leaders since the 2000 meeting of China-Africa Cooperation Forum, which fully shows that the Chinese government attaches great importance to strengthening and developing friendly relations and cooperation between China and African countries including Kenya. During the visit, Premier Zhu Rongji will hold talks with President Daniel Arap Moi and Speaker Francis Ole Kaparo of the parliament. They will exchange views on how to promote bilateral friendly relations and cooperation and other issues of mutual concern. The two countries will sign cooperation documents. Bilateral relations have been developing smoothly since China and Kenya established diplomatic relations 39 years ago. In particular, since President Moi came to power in 1978, the two sides have conducted fruitful cooperation in political, economic, trade, cultural and education fields, supported and closely coordinated with each other in international affairs. President Moi's third visit to China in 1994 and President Jiang Zemin's 1996 visit to Kenya have greatly promoted the further development of China-Kenya relations, and now China-Kenya relations are at the best stage of development since the two countries established diplomatic relations.
While answering a question on whether Premier Zhu will propose a new initiative on the Middle East Peace Process during his visit to Egypt, Huang said that, at present the Middle East situation is very tense. Premier Zhu will talk about the issue with Egyptian leaders. The Chinese government has made unremitting efforts to ease the tension in the Middle East. President Jiang and Premier Zhu have worked on relevant parties through various channels respectively. Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan has had phone conversations with foreign minister of Quatar, chair of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, secretary-general of the League of Arab States and President Arafat, and expressed China's concern about the current situation. Tang also called Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Mnister Shimon Peres and asked the Israeli side to promise to guarantee the personal safety of Arafat. US secretary of state had phone conversation with Tang before his Middle East trip. China supports all efforts conducive to the ease of tensions in the Middle East, and would like to work with the rest of the international community for an early realization of peace in the Middle East.
While taking a question on China-Africa Cooperation Forum, Mr. Ling said that the 2000 Ministerial Meeting of China-Africa Cooperation Forum held in Beijing is an important move taked by the Chinese government to further strengthen friendly cooperation with African countries. In the meeting, China and African countries agreed to turn the forum into a mechanism and adopt follow-up actions, and implement the agreements reached in the documents of the meeting. After the meeting, China set up a committee made up of 21 ministries and commissions to implement the follow-up work of the forum. Similar committees were also set up in some African countries. In the meeting of China-Africa Cooperation Forum, the Chinese government promised to reduce a total amount of RMB 10 billion Yuan of due debts owed by African countries to China in the next two years. At present, China has signed relevant agreements with over 30 African countries. Besides, the Chinese government is actively implementing Africa Human Resources Fund, and provide specific funds to support and encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in Africa. The forum will hold senior officials' meeting and ministerial meeting in Ethiopia this year and next year. At present China is maintaining close consultations with Ethiopia and Organization of African Unity.
Mr. Lin and Mr. Huang also took questions on how to strengthen agricultural cooperation between China and Africa, economic relations and trade between China and the three countries, the fight against terrorism and other issues.