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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chinese premier meets counterparts in Hanoi ahead of summits

HANOI, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday met separately with the prime ministers of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in Hanoi ahead of a series of summits between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its partners.

At the meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Wen hailed Vietnam's preparation for the upcoming meetings, saying that China would join with Vietnam to ensure the success of the meetings at a time of profound changes going on in the international situation.

Wen called for proper handling of the issue of South China Sea, saying it is of vital importance to the sound and stable development of China-Vietnam relations.

He noted that China and Vietnam have established a negotiation mechanism to solve the issue, and he hoped the two countries would discuss and sign an agreement on basic principles guiding the solution to the issues of the sea as early as possible.

Dung agreed with Wen's remarks.

Expressing the high importance China placed on the summits, Wen said China would strengthen communication and coordination with Vietnam and work with all sides concerned to push forward East Asian cooperation.

Wen said friendship and cooperation have remained the mainstream of China-Vietnam relations since the establishment of the bilateral diplomatic ties 60 years ago. He said sound and stable development of the relationship is of vital importance to both sides and the region.

The premier vowed that China would maintain high-level contacts with Vietnam, establish a hotline between leaders of the two countries, and strengthen consultation between all departments to enhance their mutual trust, deal with disputes appropriately and promote common interest.

Wen also called for an early signing of a five-year trade cooperation plan between the two countries. He urged the two sides to promote pragmatic cooperation in all areas, develop a balanced and sustainable trade relationship, and further strengthen cultural cooperation.

Dung said the Chinese premier's attendance at the summits shows the importance China attached to East Asian cooperation and its support to Vietnam. He also congratulated Wen on China's successful holding of the Shanghai Expo.

He said Vietnam attached high importance to promoting the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation with China, which was also a priority of Vietnam's foreign policy.

Vietnam would maintain high-level exchanges of visits and friendly exchanges at all levels with China, strengthen the two countries' political mutual trust, deepen cooperation in such areas as trade, agriculture, investment, infrastructure construction, press and communication, enhance coordination and cooperation in regional affairs, and make an active contribution to the peace and common development of East Asia, the prime minister pledged.

Wen also met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on bilateral relations and issues of common concern, saying that the China-Cambodia bilateral friendship had stood the test of time.

Hun Sen agreed with his Chinese counterpart and told him that his government holds that the issue of the South China Sea should not be internationalized or multilateralized.

The issue should be resolved through bilateral consultations by the countries concerned, he said.

Wen praised Hun Sen's position on this issue. He reiterated that China would, as ever, work with the countries concerned to earnestly implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, enhance mutual trust and friendly cooperation, safeguard the peace and stability of the South China Sea, and try to resolve related bilateral disputes appropriately.

Wen said that being good neighbors, good friends and good partners, China and Cambodia have maintained a high level of mutual trust despite rapid and profound changes in international and regional situations, having promoted and deepened cooperation in various fields and having supported each other on key international and regional issues.

The Chinese premier said that China would like to make concerted efforts with Cambodia to upgrade and enrich bilateral ties comprehensively. He also noted that China would support the Cambodian government to promote development in agriculture and infrastructure as well as human resources.

Hun Sen said his government is grateful to China for its gracious help in Cambodia's national reconciliation and economic and social development, noting that relations between China and Cambodia have withstood the test of time and thus have much room for further development.

Chinese enterprises are welcome to participate actively in Cambodia's economic development, he said.

In the meeting with Laotian Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh, Wen said China was willing to work together with the Laotian side to build on the bilateral friendship and boost exchanges and cooperation.

Wen urged the early signing of a blueprint for bilateral economic cooperation, saying China attached great importance to cooperation with Laos in infrastructure, human resources development and poverty elimination and was willing to offer support and assistance in these areas.

China would adhere to the policy of pursuing peace and friendly ties, equality and mutual development with its neighbors, and was willing to carry on the high-level exchanges between the two countries and between the Communist Party of China and the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, he said.

China was also willing to work together with Laos to push forward the relations between China and the ASEAN, Wen said.

He also called on the two sides to make use of the coordination function of the joint economic commission and the cooperation mechanism between China's southern province of Yunnan and the nine northern provinces of Laos to facilitate bilateral trade and investment.

Both countries should also make the best of the opportunities of the China-ASEAN free trade area to conduct mutually complementary cooperation and further vitalize bilateral economic and trade ties, Wen said.

Bouasone thanked China for its support and assistance over the years, and reiterated Laos' adherence to the one-China policy.

Laos stood ready to work closely with China to deepen exchanges and cooperation in various fields and give full play to the China-ASEAN free trade area to upgrade economic and trade cooperation, he said.

Wen arrived in Hanoi on Thursday afternoon. He is expected to attend the 13th summit between China and the ASEAN; the 13th summit between ASEAN, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK); and the fifth East Asia Summit. He will also attend a meeting with the leaders of Japan and the ROK.

The summit meeting between ASEAN and China, the first since the launching of China-ASEAN free trade area on Jan. 1, is expected to invigorate the increasingly strong bilateral ties between the two sides.

Bilateral trade increased 44 percent in the first nine months of this year, registering a record high of 211.3 billion U.S. dollars.

"This is the eighth time I have attended ASEAN summit meetings. The situation has changed a lot, but I am still very confident that the meetings will succeed as expected," Wen told reporters on the plane.

"China is developing very fast and both sides have benefited from the bilateral cooperation. Bilateral trade between China and ASEAN has surpassed 200 billion U.S. dollars as of now and is very likely to surpass 300 billion dollars by the end of this year," he said.

Briefing reporters before Wen's visit, Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue, described the visit as "an important event" by the head of the Chinese government to strengthen ties with neighboring countries.

"As a key member of Asia, China has vehemently supported and actively participated in East Asia cooperation," he said.

China would, as ever, attend the summits with a view to boosting friendship, cooperation and common development, he said.

Apart from enhancing cooperation and exchanging views on regional issues, the East Asia summit is expected to formally invite Russia and the United States to become members of the forum.
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UN condemns police beating of protestors in Cambodia (Roundup

Phnom Penh - A senior UN human rights official condemned 'excessive force' she said was used by police against several dozen peaceful protestors who were trying to meet with visiting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

'I have expressed concern in person to the Ministry of Interior about this incident and the excessive use of force used against the petitioners and Mr Suong Sophorn specifically,' said Kyung-wha Kang, the UN's deputy high commissioner for human rights, who arrived in Cambodia Tuesday with Ban's delegation.

A prominent local human rights group, Licadho, said earlier that Suong Sophorn had been beaten unconscious and dragged away by police who used electric shock batons and walkie-talkies to beat protestors.
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Kang said the local UN human rights office had contacted the police, who later released Suong Sophorn 'as promised.'

'I have also received the petition of the [protestors] on behalf of the secretary general,' she said.
The protestors are to shortly be evicted from their homes in central Phnom Penh to make way for a large development by a well-connected company. They had unsuccessfully petitioned Ban to meet them to discuss their plight.


Licadho director Naly Pilorge said the beatings, which took place close to a hospital that Ban was visiting, was indicative of the government's approach to human rights and its international reputation.


'Either they don't understand the harm that this sort of incident causes to Cambodia's reputation, or they don't care, or perhaps they just think they can get away with it,' she said.
Earlier Thursday, Ban visited Phnom Penh's S-21 prison, where more than 14,000 people were tortured and marked for execution during the Khmer Rouge's rule of the country in the late 1970s.


Ban referred to the Khmer Rouge rule as a 'terrible chapter' in the country's history.
'But I want you to know that your courage has sent a strong and powerful message to the world that there can be no impunity, that crimes against humanity shall not go unpunished,' he said.

It has been an eventful trip for Ban.


On Wednesday, Cambodia's foreign minister said Prime Minister Hun Sen told Ban he would not permit any further prosecutions of former Khmer Rouge cadres, a statement that set off a storm of criticism about political interference in the judicial process.


But the government later appeared to moderate its tone when Minister for Information Khieu Kanharith said Hun Sen had merely expressed his desire to see no further prosecutions.
'We don't say forbidden because you cannot dictate, you cannot impose your will on the court,' Khieu Kanharith said.


Hun Sen also told Ban to close the UN human rights office because he deemed it was acting as a mouthpiece for the opposition and told him to sack the UN's country head for human rights, Christophe Peschoux.


Khieu Kanharith reiterated that position.


'It is time to close down the office,' he said. 'Both [the office and Peschoux] have to go.'
Ban left Cambodia Thursday after a three-day visit for Vietnam, where he is to attend a summit between the United Nations and the 10-member Association of South-East Asian Nations. He is to conclude his Asian tour in China. .
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United Nations-Backed Tribunal in Cambodia Dealing With Mass Killings

The United Nations-backed tribunal in Cambodia dealing with mass killings and other crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge three decades ago is crucial in the world's fight against impunity, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in the South-East Asian nation today.

As many as 2.2 million people are believed to have died during the 1975-79 rule of the Khmer Rouge, which was then followed by a protracted period of civil war in the impoverished country.

Under an agreement signed by the UN and the Government, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia was set up as an independent court using a mixture of Cambodian staff and judges and foreign personnel. It is designated to try those deemed most responsible for crimes and serious violations of Cambodian and international law between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979.

"You are helping the people of Cambodia continue the process of reconciliation and build a peaceful and prosperous future," the Secretary-General told the Court today.

"Your work is vital in the world's fight against impunity."

He said that it is nearly impossible to describe what took place in Cambodia in the 1970s, underlining the need for accountability for the "shocking" crimes.

"As a young person at the time, I was horrified" by the sheer scale of the killings and the incomprehensible inhumanity, Mr. Ban said.

He acknowledged that, as with all UN-assisted criminal tribunals, it is impossible to try all offenders.

"Nevertheless, putting the senior Khmer Rouge leaders on trial, even 30 years after, is itself a powerful message, a message that impunity will not be tolerated - neither by the people of Cambodia and their Government, nor by the United Nations and the international community."

The Secretary-General pointed to some key accomplishments the ECCC has made so far.

In its first verdict handed down in July, the Court found Kaing Guek Eav guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Also known as Duch, the head of a notorious detention camp run by the Khmer Rouge was given a 35-year prison term.

"This victory is significant - not only for the many thousands of people who died or were imprisoned in Toul Sleng prison, but also for survivors everywhere," Mr. Ban, who will visit the Genocide Museum at the prison site, said. "They can see justice being done."

He noted that Cambodians want to see justice done, with 31,000 people having attended Duch's trial, with many more having watched from afar.

In September, the ECCC indicted the four most senior members of the Democratic Kampuchea regime who are still alive for crimes against humanity, genocide, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, as well as for violations of the 1956 Cambodian penal code, including murder, torture and religious persecution.

"Let us send a power signal to anyone, anywhere, who might commit such crimes in the future," the Secretary-General said.

Earlier today in the capital, Phnom Penh, he discussed the need for the Government's full cooperation and respect for the Court and its independence with Prime Minister Hun Sen, stressing that this is vital to enable the body to enjoy international support and to leave a strong legacy in Cambodia.

The ECCC, he stressed, was set up to be fully independent and that even the Secretary-General should not seek to influence its decisions in any way.

Human rights were also a focus of their talks, with Mr. Ban expressing appreciation for the Cambodian Government's cooperation with all human rights mechanisms. He also emphasized the importance of creating political space for public debate, including on human rights.

The Secretary-General underlined the essential public advocacy role of the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights stressing the notable role and value of its Phnom Penh office.

Other issues discussed between the two men today included the important role the UN has played since 1993 in the area of elections in Cambodia, the situation in Myanmar and the partnership between the world body and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Mr. Ban is in the region for a four-nation trip that started in Thailand and will also take him to Viet Nam and China.

Source: United Nations
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