On the afternoon of March 20, 2007, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao held a regular press conference and answered questions on the Six-Party Talks, Premier Wen's visit to Japan and other issues.
Liu: Good afternoon! The number of present journalists is not much impressive today. It seems that friends from the press are busy with covering the Six-Party Talks.
I will begin with two announcements.
First, at the invitation of President Putin of the Russian Federation, Chinese President Hu Jintao will pay a state visit to the Russian Federation from March 26 to 28, and attend the opening ceremony of "China Year in Russia".
For the convenience of your report, at the invitation of the International Press Center of the Foreign Ministry, Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui will give a background briefing to the media on President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit to the Russian Federation and his attendance at "Year of China" activities at 9:00 a.m., March 21 in the Press Room. Your presence is welcome.
Second, at the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao, the Prime Minister of Kingdom of Norway Jens Stoltenberg will pay a formal visit to China from March 25 to 28.
Now the floor is open.
Q: The head of DPRK delegation to the Six-Party Talks Kim Kye Gwan questioned Japan's sincerity and its eligibility for the Six-Party Talks. Is this conducive to the Talks? What obligation does Japan have in the initial phase? Is China worried about that Japan will become an obstacle to the Talks?
A: Head of Chinese delegation, chairman of Six-Party Talks Wu Dawei made a speech on the agenda and task of this round of Talks at the opening ceremony in yesterday morning. All the parties are ready to earnestly honor their commitments enshrined in the 2·13 Joint Statement and press ahead with the Six-Party Talks, according to their statements during the Talks. This is a very good beginning. The parties have their own concerns, which need to be properly addressed under relevant frameworks.
The overall goal on our way ahead is still to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula at an early date so that the goals and commitments in the 2·13 Joint Statement can be fulfilled in a comprehensive, well-balanced and effective way. All the parties should keep faith with their commitment and communicate on their concerns with open candor so as to march ahead at the Six-Party Talks.
The Six countries are all closely connected with the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, and shoulder responsibility to make their share of effort and contribution to the denuclearization of the Peninsula. Our hope is the fewer obstacles on the way ahead the better. But we are fully prepared for the arduous process of denuclearization. I think this also makes sense to you after the five good rounds of hard talks. But we are the confident in the prospect of a nuclear-weapon-free, peaceful and stable Korean Peninsula.
Q: Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang expressed his "deep regret" over the sanction on Banco Delta Asia by the US Treasury Department. Head of US Delegation Hill announced a new settlement yesterday. What's your comment? Is there any "regret" again?
A: The most urgent and overriding task for the Six-Party Talks is to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The problems in the process should be addressed by the joint efforts of various parties. The consensus reached by relevant parties concerning the Banco Delta Asia is conducive to the Six-Party Talks. We request the US to make consultation with the Macau Special Administration Region for the sake of financial stability in Macau. We hope that Macau SAR's concern can be properly addressed.
Q: It's reported that two Chinese citizens were hijacked in Nigeria. Please confirm. What efforts have been made by Foreign Ministry and the embassy in Nigeria?
A: The Chinese Embassy in Nigeria has timely reported the situation timely to Foreign Ministry. As far as I know, two employees of a Chinese company in Anambra, Nigeria were hijacked by unidentified armed men. China is trying to further verify of the case and make representations with Nigeria. We will make every effort to urge relevant parties in Nigeria to search and rescue them. We will continue our effort to ensure the security of the two Chinese citizens.
Q: This is the third time for Chinese citizens to be kidnapped in Nigeria. Will Chinese and Nigerian governments take actions? What actions will China take to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens?
A: We need to make a lot of efforts in this regard: Firstly, we request the Nigerian Government to pay adequate attention to this kind of cases and adopt effective and preventive measures so that this will not happen again. Nigeria said that they will handle seriously China's concerns, and make efforts to assist China to search and rescue the two persons. Secondly, Chinese companies and citizens should take more cautions about their safety.
Thirdly, Chinese Foreign Ministry has issued through the website its safety warning to our citizens and requests them to be aware of present situation there and to take more precautions. Fourthly, we will take the interest of Chinese citizens' safety and property above all the other considerations, strengthen cooperation with relevant parties and do all we can to search and rescue Chinese citizens.
Q: Could you brief us on the bilateral and multilateral meetings in the Six-Party Talks? The US announced yesterday that the unfrozen assets will be transferred to the Bank of China. What measures will China adopt? Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said that Japan was not qualified to attend the Talks. What's your comment?
A: The opening ceremony was held yesterday morning, and then the plenary session. Various parties had close bilateral consultations yesterday afternoon and this morning. It depends on the arrangements of various parties to decide whether there will be a plenary session this afternoon. As far as I know, China held bilateral consultation with DPRK, the US, the ROK, Japan and Russia, which did good to various parties to deepen their understanding and probe the means to implement the 2·13 Joint Statement.
Relevant parties have consensus on the proper settlement of the DPRK account in the Banco Delta Asia, which is believed to be conducive to the progress of the Six-Party Talks. We request the US to continue consultation with the Macau SAR in order to safeguard the financial stability in the SAR. We hope that the Macau SAR's relevant concern can be properly handled.
We noted that Japan and the DPRK are still greatly divided, including the kidnapping and history issues. We hope that Japan and the DPRK will properly handle the issue through dialogue and consultation.
Q: DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said that the DPRK will return to the IAEA after shut down the nuclear facility in Yongbyon. What's your comment? Can the agenda of the foreign ministers' meeting be set in the Six-Party Talks?
A: We note that Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said that if relevant parties implement their commitment as scheduled, the DPRK has prepared to shut down and seal the nuclear facility in Yongbyon and accept the monitoring and verification by the IAEA. This is a necessary step by various parties in order to implement the 2·13 Joint Statement. We hope that relevant parties can continue to abide by their commitment and materialize the principle of "action for action", and press ahead firmly to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
On the foreign ministers' meeting, it depends on the consultation by various parties.
Q: China chaired the denuclearization working group meeting last week. Please brief us on the progress of the meeting, especially on the uranium enrichment issue.
Second, Russia said it would cut off uranium supply to Iran if the latter failed to abide by the resolution of the UN Security Council. Does China endorse Russia's move? Will China follow suit?
A: As for your first question, the working groups have been launched before the opening of this round of Six-Party Talks. Chaired by China, the working group on the denuclearization of Korean Peninsula also convened a meeting, during which serious discussion was made on how to take the initial actions. All the six parties expressed their willingness to join efforts in making initial actions. They also welcomed the visit by IAEA Director-General to the DPRK. The parties held intensive bilateral consultation, and their experts exchanged views on the technical issues pertaining to denuclearization.
We think this meeting is a good start, facilitating the parties concerned to make candid exchange of views on initial actions and in-depth discussion on how to work and what to solve within the working group for the next stage. We believe the exchanges have built mutual understanding for the six parties and thus, created conditions for further discussion on the related issues. We hope all the parties will make concerted efforts and overcome difficulties, so as to bring about a mutually beneficial and win-win scenario.
On your second question, we are much concerned with the current development of Iranian nuclear issue. China has always been upholding international nuclear non-proliferation regime, opposing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and standing for preventing new disturbance in the Middle East. We hope the Iranian nuclear issue can be resolve through political and diplomatic efforts and peaceful negotiation. Now, the Security Council is discussing on this issue. We hold that the discussion and action related to the issue should support and reinforce the diplomatic efforts of the international community on this issue. China participates in the discussion within the Security Council precisely on this principle.
We noticed that Russia voiced its position on the Iranian nuclear issue. China will continue to actively consult with the parties concerned and seek proper solution of the issue through diplomatic channel.
Q: It is said that China will enter into an extradition treaty with France in the days to come. There are some voices against the treaty in France, expressing concern over the capital punishment and reform through labor system in China. What's your comment?
A: As far as I know, China and France are having close consultations on the extradition treaty. Now, the consultations are still going on, and I am not thoroughly aware of the content of the treaty. We will brief you after the completion of these consultations, expounding on China's position and answering the questions of your concern.
Q: It is said that China and Vatican are negotiating on establishing diplomatic relations. Please confirm and tell us the venue of negotiation.
A: I cannot confirm what you said. China's position on normalization of China-Vatican relations is clear to all.
Q: Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan is visiting Australia, New Zealand and two other countries. Please brief us on the purpose of his visit. Will he discuss China's investment in mining industry of these countries or uranium export with Australia?
A: At the invitation of the governments of those countries, Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan has begun an official and goodwill visit to several South Pacific countries. Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan will make an in-depth exchange of views on deepening bilateral practical cooperation with those countries. The visit just starts off. When the visit unfolds itself, Chinese delegation will give the press briefings. We look forward to concrete achievements through this visit.
Q: Has the closing date for this round of Six-Party Talks fixed?
A: I saw some reports saying Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei wished to see the closing of the Talks within three days. But I don't have further confirmation on the report. Past experiences show that setting a closing date is invariably a taxing task for each round of the Talks. The schedule has to be determined in line with the development of the Talks.
Q: It is reported that Premier Wen had planned to visit Japan from April 11 to 15. But now his visit is said to be shortened and the ROK will be put on his agenda. Please confirm. In addition, some people speculated that the cut-down was caused by China's dissatisfaction with the remarks on "comfort women" by Japanese leaders. Please confirm.
A: What you said is only speculation. China and Japan are staying in close consultation on the schedule, events and arrangements for Premier Wen's visit. There is no such question of curtailing visit as you said. ROK is a part of the visit plan from the beginning. We will make a formal release of information when the two sides settle the arrangement through consultation. We assure you won't miss good timing on covering the visit.
On the sideline of the NPC and CPPCC sessions, Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing expressed China's position on the remarks by Japanese leaders related to that issue in history. I have nothing to add.
Q: Can you brief on the meeting of the working group on denuclearization, in particular, its discussion on IAEA? What role will IAEA play in the process of the Six-Party Talks? Direct participation or merely bilateral contact with the DPRK? Will it join the working groups of the Talks?
A: Now, the IAEA is not a party to the Six-Party Talks. But we welcome its constructive role on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.
Q: This round of Six-Party Talks is discussing the mechanism of working groups. Given that China chairs the working group on denuclearization, can you tell us when the group will meet again? Will it hold regular meetings? How will the other working groups arrange their schedules?
A: Now, the parties are focusing on making progress at the sixth round of Six-Party Talks. They will discuss on when to hold next meetings of working groups. The working groups will hold more meetings in an orderly way on the basis of consensus between all the parties.
If no more questions are waiting, thank you for your presence. We kindly welcome you to attend the briefing by Assistant Minister Li Hui in this hall tomorrow morning.