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Chinese premier arrives in Thailand for ASEAN summits with partners


HUA HIN, Thailand, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived here Friday evening to attend a series of meetings related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), at which regional integration and economic ties are expected to top the agenda.

Wen is scheduled to attend the 12th summit between ASEAN and China (10+1), the 12th summit between ASEAN and China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) and the fourth East Asia Summit.

He will also hold bilateral meetings with heads of government from other countries during his three-day stay in the seaside town, some 200 km south of Bangkok.

Wen's visit, made at the invitation of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, will be a "journey of cooperation, confidence and development," Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue said Wednesday.

During the summit meetings, China and ASEAN countries are expected to sign several cooperation documents, including a memorandum of understanding on the China-ASEAN center to facilitate economic, trade, social, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, Hu said.

Also on Wednesday, China and ASEAN pledged to safeguard regional financial stability and strengthen regional cooperation in currency and investment.

China is ASEAN's fourth largest trading and investment partner, as its trade with ASEAN accounts for 10.6 percent of ASEAN's total. Its investment in ASEAN member states soared by 125 percent year-on-year to reach 2.18 billion U.S. dollars in 2008.

China and ASEAN have vowed to join hands in the fight against the global financial crisis. China has announced plans to establish a China-ASEAN investment cooperation fund totaling 10 billion U.S. dollars, designated for cooperation in such sectors as infrastructure construction, energy and resources, information and communications.

"The arrangement for the fund is going smoothly and the first 1billion U.S. dollars...is expected to be used before the end of this year," China's Ambassador to ASEAN Xue Hanqin said Wednesday.

China and ASEAN are also expected to launch a Free Trade Area (FTA) in 2010, the world's largest FTA with a combined population of 1.9 billion and the world's third largest in terms of trade volume.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand. Its six dialogue partners are China, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea.


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