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Premier Wen Jiabao Holds Press Conference in Egypt

On June 18, 2006, Premier Wen Jiabao of the State Council held a press conference prior to concluding his formal visit to Egypt. About 100 journalists from Egyptian major media, International media based in Egypt and Chinese media attended the conference. The full text of the press conference is as follows:

Journalist from Egyptian Al-Ahram: Would you comment on significance of your visit to Egypt? What's your opinion on the prospect of China-Egypt relations? What role do you think China plays in the Middle East?

Premier Wen: I visit Egypt on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Egypt. Both China and Egypt are ancient civilizations. As President Mubarak says, "China and Egypt are the creators of glory and progress of mankind, protectors of cultural heritage and pursuers of lofty value and ideal." His sentence embodies the essence of China-Egypt relations. Over the past 50 years, China and Egypt supported and helped each other and established brotherly friendship. In the past two days I held meetings with President Mubarak and Prime Minister Nazif and we signed the Implementation Outline on Deepening the Strategic and Cooperative Relations between China and Egypt. We also reached extensive common consensus on the bilateral relations as well as major international and regional issues of common concern. I believe that with the joint efforts of both sides China-Egypt relations will further develop and China-Egypt friendship will remain unshaken as the pyramid.

As to what role will China play on the Middle East issue, my answer is China will continue to play an active and constructive role.

Journalist from Japanese Sankei Shimbun: Currently Palestine-Israel conflict is the most difficult issue in the Middle East. What contribution can China make to solve the issue? Some sanctions have been adopted on the Hamas-led Palestinian government by related parties. Is China going to extend support to the Hamas-led government in such ways as providing assistance?

Premier Wen: China supports the Middle East peace process and the "road map" plan and proposes solving the Palestine-Israel conflict based on related resolutions of the United Nations and the principle of "land for peace" through dialogues and political negotiations. China hopes various parties within Palestine can treat their differences calmly and reach consensus on internal policies through consultations. It is helpful to the resolution of the Palestine-Israel issue.

China expects to see a Middle East with peace, stability and development. The role China plays is promoting peace and facilitating talks in a bid to enable the Palestinian and Israeli people to live and develop in a peaceful environment.

The current situation in the Middle East and the humanitarian situation in Palestine are worrisome. China does not agree on political isolation or economic blockade. The international community should provide greater assistance to Palestine and help Chairman Abbas and the Palestinian government realize stability in Palestine.

Journalist from Spanish EFE: Over the past years China has been playing an increasingly important role on the international arena. China is also seeking to strengthen relations with Latin American and African countries. Do you think that while developing relations with African and American countries China will have friction or even clash with the United States?

Premier Wen: It's true that in recent years China has achieved major economic and social progress, but China adheres to the independent foreign policy of peace. China's efforts to develop the friendly and cooperative relations with African and Latin American countries are neither targeted at any third country nor detrimental to the interest of any country. I believe even the United State government also recognizes this.

Journalist from Egyptian Middle East News Agency: In November this year the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation will hold summit and ministerial conference. During the forum, will China's assistance to Africa cover technical assistance? How will China help Africa stride forward in the 21st century? Will China link its assistance to Africa with such issues as human rights and good governance? What are the goals of the upcoming summit?

Premier Wen: The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation is an effective mechanism for both sides to conduct collective dialogue and an important platform to conduct pragmatic cooperation. China and Africa should make best use of the platform to push forward the mutually beneficial cooperation. I believe that the Beijing Summit of the Forum to be held in November this year will stimulate the future development of China-Africa relations.

China and Africa enjoy a half-century-long history of friendly cooperation. Despite of our own severe difficulties, we provided African countries and people with valuable support and assistance within our own capacity. China's assistance to Africa covers a wide range of areas. Over the past 5 decades, China implemented almost 900 infrastructure and public welfare projects in Africa to support Africa in developing its economy. China dispatched medical teams to 43 African countries, with a total of 16,000-person-time Chinese medical staffs helping a total of 240-million-person-time patients.

During the upcoming summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, we will mainly discuss issues like economic cooperation, human resources training and corporate investment. Within the framework of the Forum, China has already exempted RMB10.5 billion of debts of 31 heavily indebted poor countries and the least developed countries in Africa and granted zero-tariff treatment to the commodities under 190 tax items exported by 29 least developed African countries to China. During the 2nd Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in Ethiopia's capital Addis-Ababa 3 years ago, China proposed offering training to 10,000 African professionals in all fields. This target will be accomplished as scheduled this year. China encourages domestic enterprises to start cooperation with African counterparts in a bid to improve the self-development ability of Africa. The goal of the November summit is to establish a new type of China-Africa strategic partnership featuring equality and mutual trust in politics, economic cooperation and win-win results, and cultural exchanges.

Journalist from Reuters: What do you think is the best way to break the current Iranian nuclear impasse? During this visit, China will sign a series of trade agreements with African countries. How do you look at the relationship between these agreements and human rights and environmental protection?

Premier Wen: First of all, I'd like to talk about the position of the Chinese government on the Iranian nuclear issue. We firmly support maintaining the international nuclear non-proliferation system and oppose the proliferation of nuclear weapons. We think that Iran has the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but at the same time Iran must fulfill its due obligations and promises and adopt measures to enhance the trust of the international community. We advocate that the Iranian nuclear issue be resolved through diplomatic means. At present, the suggestions proposed at the foreign ministers' meeting of 6 countries have laid a solid foundation for the peaceful resolution of the issue. It is hoped that all parties concerned seize the opportunity, take a construct attitude and demonstrate greater flexibility to promote the resumption of talks as soon as possible. China will continue to work in our own way among concerned parties and cooperated with them.

Africa is a continent having 53 countries and a total population over 800 million. China attaches great importance to developing economic and trade ties with African countries. Last year the bilateral trade volume only amounted to US$39.8 billion, among which the trade surplus of Africa reached $2.4 billion. We believe that there remain great potential for the further growth of economic and trade relations between the two sides.

There are 3 priorities for China to develop economic and trade relations with Africa. First, import of African commodities should be expanded. China will take effective measures to create conditions for Africa to introduce and promote their commodities; second, technical assistance must go hand in hand with economic assistance and cooperation. The focus is to enhance the self-development ability of Africa; third, efforts should be intensified to help Africa to train technical and managerial talents.

While handling China-Africa relations, the Chinese government has been unswervingly following the guideline of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit, and non-interference in other's internal affairs. China supports Africa in building democracy and legal system and will never impose our will upon others. We believe that the people in all regions and countries have the right and the ability to solve their own problems. The international community should respect the development paths chosen by African countries on their own.

Journalist from Information Telegraphic Agency of Russia ?TASS: During this visit did China and Egypt talk about energy cooperation, especially the energy supplies from Egypt to China?

Premier Wen: The cooperation between China and Egypt is multi-faceted. Energy is an important pillar of Egyptian economy. We are willing to carry out cooperation with Egypt in

Journalist from China Radio International (CRI): I have a question related with the energy question asked by the previous journalist. Your African trip has drawn wide attention. It is said that the purpose of China to develop relations with African countries is for the sake of grabbing oil and energy of Africa. Someone indicates that China is practicing "neo-colonialism". What are your comments on that?

Premier Wen: You can never label China as "Neo-colonialism". From the Opium War in 1840, China suffered the colonialist aggression for almost 110 years. The Chinese nation understands the sufferings brought about by colonialism and is deeply aware that we must fight against colonialism. That is one major reason that we have been long supporting the national liberation and rejuvenation of Africa.

Here, I wish to stress that the African people also provided China with valuable support over the past years. In Chinese, we say the African people do "Good" to China. An ancient Chinese thinker once said, "Do not forget the Good given by others and do forget the Good given to others."

We are aware that China has oil trade with a few African countries. The cooperation is carried out in an open and transparent manner. Such cooperation is normal and benefits both sides. Last year, the total volume of oil imported by China from Africa was less than 1/3 of some major powers.

Despite of its own difficulties, China still helped the African people build a project like Tanzania-Zambia railway. Today, China's economy prospered. We shall remember our old friends better than ever. There is an old Chinese saying that goes like this, "As distance tests a horse's strength, so does time reveal a person's real character." Let history be the witness.

Journalist from Egyptian Al-Ahram: We know from newspapers that China and Israel have a valuable bilateral relationship. How does China combine its friendly relationships with the Arab world and Israel and play its part in related issues? How will China, through its own efforts, help the Palestinian people get out of difficulties?

Premier Wen: China does have a normal and friendly national relationship with Israel. Such a relationship benefits not only the people of both countries but also the Arab world. It helps China to work for peace, facilitate talks and maintain peace and stability of the region.

Soon I will wind up my visit to Egypt. During my talks with Prime Minister Nazif yesterday, I quoted lines of a great Egyptian poet of the 19th century, "Please follow me to the riverside of Nile. Here fruits hang in clusters on date palms. Here is filled with love, hope and life." Although my stay in Egypt is short, I'm deeply impressed by the glorious ancient Egyptian civilization, the splendid modern achievements and the warm and hospitable Egyptian people. I sincerely hope the Egyptian people will make greater achievements and China-Egypt, China-Arab and China-Africa friendships will last forever.

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