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China’s premier makes proposals for boosting regional co_op at ASEAN summits

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HANOI, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Friday made proposals for boosting cooperation, especially in economy and trade, at a series of ongoing summits between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its partners including China, Japan and South Korea.

He attended the China-ASEAN summit, the summit of ASEAN Plus Three, namely China, Japan and South Korea, and a meeting of the leaders of the three countries.

Wen also held bilateral talks with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines.

CHINA-ASEAN COOPERATION

Wen and other leaders at the 13th summit between China and the ASEAN voiced their commitment to further strengthening their strategic partnership and comprehensive cooperation.

Wen made a six-point proposal to further enhance the strategic partnership between China and Southeast Asian nations, saying the cooperation has been "most pragmatic, most extensive and most fruitful."

"We should continue to pursue peaceful development through friendly cooperation" and must work together to ensure that "the China-ASEAN cooperation stay at the forefront of East Asian cooperation," Wen said.

Topping the list of priorities is the further promotion of economic and trade relations between the two sides, Wen said.

Wen said China will further expand imports from and facilitate trade with ASEAN members in the coming years in the hope of bringing the annual bilateral trade value to 500 billion U.S. dollars by 2015.

ASEAN PLUS THREE SUMMIT

At the ASEAN Plus Three summit involving ASEAN and China, Japan and South Korea, Wen proposed that they speed up work on establishing the East Asia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and boost cooperation in finance and other areas.

"Stronger ASEAN Plus Three cooperation is essential to the revitalization of East Asia," Wen said at the summit.

On the East Asia FTA, Wen said China, as the lead sherpa of the ASEAN Plus Three business cooperation, has put forward the roadmap for ASEAN Plus Three trade facilitation for the next five years.

"China will consult with other parties and propose specific measures to further advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation within the region," he said.

With China, Japan and South Korea each having their respective FTAs with the ASEAN in place, the three countries should move faster towards the establishment of a free trade agreement, Wen said.

China, Japan and South Korea have decided to sign a tripartite investment agreement as soon as possible and complete the joint FTA study involving the government, industry, and academia by 2012, he said.

Wen also called for efforts to deepen financial cooperation, saying that the two sides should make the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization more effective and improve its operation procedures.

Meanwhile, those countries should probe ways to encourage cross-border bond transaction and settlement in the region, and intensify the capacity-building for the development of the bond market, he said.

The premier also called for promoting cooperation in food security, agriculture, infrastructure construction and education.

On food security, Wen said China stands ready to join efforts with all other parties to build the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve. He pledged a further 1 million dollars in donation to the reserve.

Wen also urged the strengthening of communication and coordination among the ASEAN Plus Three on major international issues, and pushed for positive outcomes at major international conferences like the G20 summit.

CHINA-JAPAN-SOUTH KOREA COOPERATION

The cooperation between China, Japan and South Korea, an important part of East Asian cooperation, has been developing soundly with the efforts of the three countries, Wen said at the meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

Wen proposes that the three countries push for the completion of a joint FTA study by the government, industry and academia by 2012 as planned.

He also proposed that the three countries observe the principle of pragmatism and flexibility to properly resolve the differences and conclude the tripartite investment agreement at an early date.

The three side should also boost cooperation in science and technological innovation in key sectors such as energy conservation, environment protection, new power and renewable energy, he said.

The Chinese premier also proposed that the three countries kick off the preparatory work on the China-Japan-ROK recycling economy demonstration base as soon as possible, further strengthen cooperation in health and hygiene and optimize the tripartite cooperation mechanism.

BILATERAL MEETINGS

In the meeting with his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong, Wen hailed the bilateral fruitful exchanges and cooperation.

No matter how the international situation changes, China's position on upholding the basic principles of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs will not change, he said.

Both sides should seize the opportunity to boost cooperation in adjusting industrial structure and promoting sustainable development, and strive to make joint programs such as the Suzhou Industrial Park and the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City successful, he said.

China welcomes Singaporean enterprises to take part in the development of China's northeastern and western regions, Wen said.

Agreeing with Wen's cooperation proposals, Lee said Singapore would grasp the cooperation opportunities brought about by China's development and strive to push bilateral economic and trade relations to a new level.

Lee said he hoped China and ASEAN would continue their efforts to achieve new progress in East Asian cooperation.

At the meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Wen said the world offered enough areas in which both sides could cooperate.

Both sides should unswervingly maintain their friendship, promote political trust, and steadily consolidate their strategic cooperative partnership. China is willing to work with India to give full play to bilateral economic and trade cooperation, and strive for a continuous growth of trade and investment, Wen said.

He also said China and India should safeguard the interests of developing countries through better coordination when addressing global issues such as international financial system reform, climate change, energy and food security, natural disaster prevention and relief, and anti-terrorism.

Singh said China and India are friends and partners, not rivals.

The Indian government highly valued the relations with China, and India is willing to join China to strengthen their high-level exchanges and consultations at all levels, to expand reciprocal cooperation, and to enhance their coordination on global and regional issues, said the Indian prime minister.

Both prime ministers agreed that the two countries would continue to maintain peace and stability in their border areas.

Based on the spirit of peace and friendship, equality and consultation, and mutual respect and understanding, China and India would take into consideration each other's concerns, and work for an equitable and justified settlement of border issues that was acceptable to both sides.

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