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Wen heads home from canceled Asian talks

CHINESE Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in Beijing last night, returning from Pattaya after the Thai government postponed the ASEAN Summit because of domestic political unrest.

Wen had been scheduled to attend the summit and several related meetings, including a China-Japan-South Korea meeting.

He told Thai counterpart Abhisit Vejjajiva during a phone conversation yesterday that China's policies on deepening exchanges and cooperation with ASEAN, helping member states overcome difficulties and pushing forward regional cooperation remained unchanged.

He said China attached great importance to relations with ASEAN and would strengthen cooperation with the association.

The top priority in China-ASEAN cooperation was to jointly tackle the challenges of the financial crisis, and maintain steady and relatively fast economic growth, Wen said.

China and ASEAN had planned to sign an investment agreement at their summit which, together with a 2004 goods agreement and a 2007 services agreement, would formally complete the China-ASEAN free trade area negotiations.

South Korea and Japan

Wen earlier met South Korean and Japanese leaders in Pattaya, agreeing to work together to combat the financial crisis.

In his meeting with Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-bak, Wen said the two countries should enhance cooperation to strengthen the strategic partnership and overcome the current difficulties.

To achieve these goals, Wen offered a three-point proposal, which included maintaining a balanced increase in bilateral trade, strengthening cooperation in finance and enhancing cooperation under the G20 framework.

Lee said South Korea appreciated China's measures to tackle the crisis. China's sustained economic growth was crucial to South Korea and the rest of the world, he said.

Wen discussed bilateral ties and the recent rocket launch by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso.

Wen said the two countries should promote strategic relations and contribute to the stability and development of Asia and the rest of the world.

Wen said he welcomed a visit by Aso to China in the near future and was looking forward to the second tripartite summit between China, Japan and South Korea later this year. Aso said Japan attached great importance to its relations with China.


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