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December 4, 2009

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CHINESE leaders met Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Beijing yesterday, hoping that through this visit the bilateral ties would "turn a new page."

"China-Canada relations experienced twists and turns in recent years, which is not in accordance with interests of both sides," Premier Wen Jiabao said during talks with Harper, who is on his first visit to China since taking office in 2006.

This was also the first meeting between the Chinese premier and the Canadian prime minister in almost five years.

"It was too long a time for bilateral relations - that was why there were comments in the media that the visit should have taken place earlier," said Wen. "Your visit this time has a great mission and special significance."

Wen said the two nations' common interests were far greater than the disagreements.

"As long as the two nations abide by the principles of mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs, and take care of each other's core interests and major concerns, China-Canada relations will make healthy and stable progress," Wen said.

Next year, China and Canada will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.

Wen hoped that the two nations would increase coordination and cooperation.

Wen urged the two to speed up talks on an investment protection agreement, in a bid to offer legal safeguards for increasing mutual investment.

The Canadian government in recent years worked out the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative, which is an integrated set of investment and policy measures focusing on trade with the Asia-Pacific region.

China was ready to participate more in the project, Wen said.

China announced the Approved Destination Status for Canada during Harper's current visit. Wen hoped the two nations would expand exchanges in education, culture, sports, tourism and media.

Harper agreed that five years was too long, calling on both sides to take the opportunity of the 40th anniversary to further cement ties.

President Hu Jintao also met Harper yesterday. He said the visit would push bilateral cooperation to a new level.

Harper is scheduled to arrive in Shanghai today to continue his five-day visit.


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