Liu Weimin started the press conference with the following announcement:
The Chinese Government recently appointed Ambassador Zhong Jianhua to succeed Ambassador Liu Guijin as the Chinese Government's Special Representative on African Affairs. Ambassador Zhong is a veteran diplomat, who used to be Director-General of the Department of Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chinese Consul-General to Los Angeles and Chinese Ambassador to South Africa. Ambassador Zhong will make tireless efforts for a closer connection between China, African countries and regional organizations and for the advancement of China-Africa relations.
Q: Japanese media reported that due to dissatisfaction with the Japanese Government's recent naming of uninhabited islands around the Diaoyu Island, the Chinese side canceled President Hu Jintao's meeting scheduled on February 17 with seven Japan-China friendship groups, including the Japan-China Friendship Association. Another Chinese leader will meet with them. Please confirm.
A: The above report is groundless. Seven Japan-China friendship groups have made important contribution to the restoration, improvement and development of China-Japan relations, serving as an important bridge that promotes China-Japan friendly exchanges and cooperation. China warmly welcomes and attaches great importance to the joint visit of the heads of seven Japan-China friendship groups to China.
Q: The US Embassy in China officially launched its new visa policy on February 13, making Chinese citizens' trips to the US easier. What is China's comment?
A: China welcomes the positive measures adopted by the US side to streamline Chinese citizens' visa application. China would like to consult with the US side to further simplify visa application and facilitate personnel exchanges on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.
Q: It is reported that Arab League Secretary General Araby met with visiting Chinese Foreign Ministry Ambassador Li Huaxin on February 13 in Cairo. Please brief us on that.
A: Chinese former Ambassador to Syria Li Huaxin started his visit to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar on February 10 to exchange views with relevant officials of the above countries and the Arab League on the situation in Syria as well as issues of common interest. During his stay in Egypt, Ambassador Li met with officials of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and Arab League Secretary General Araby, mainly exchanging views on the situation in Syria. The two sides agreed to stay in communication and coordination on the Syrian issue. You can refer to the Foreign Ministry's website for specifics.
Chinese Special Envoy on the Middle East Issue Ambassador Wu Sike will visit Israel, Palestine and Jordan from February 19 to 23. He will also elaborate on China's position and policy on the Syrian issue during his visit.
China and Arab League countries have common ground on stopping violence, protecting civilians and launching political dialogue. We look forward to strengthening communication with Arab countries and the Arab League and playing a positive and constructive role in resolving the Syrian issue politically.
Q: Please brief us on Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu's visit to Iran.
A: Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu paid a visit to Iran upon invitation from February 12 to 13. During his visit, Ma Zhaoxu met with Secretary Jalili of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, held talks with Deputy Secretary Bagheri and met with Iranian Vice Foreign Minister Akhoundzadeh. The two sides had a candid, in-depth and longtime exchange of views mainly centered on the Iranian nuclear issue.
Ma Zhaoxu stated that given the current complex and grim situation of the Iranian nuclear issue, all relevant parties should meet each other half way, stick to the path of resolving the Iranian nuclear issue through dialogue and cooperation and resume the process of talks at an early date. What is pressing now is to restart the talks between P5+1 countries and Iran and step up cooperation between the IAEA and Iran so as to jointly figure out an effective approach for the settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue in steady steps. We hope that the Iranian side will respond to the letter from Madame Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy as soon as possible.
The Iranian side expressed the willingness to resume talks with all parties at an early date and enhance cooperation with the IAEA. They would like to hold a new round of fruitful dialogue, discuss the Iranian nuclear issue with P5+1 countries earnestly and reply Madame Ashton as soon as possible.
In general, the talks and meetings between China and Iran are rewarding, positive and constructive. Relevant remarks of the Iranian side are important and positive signals. China urges all parties to seize the opportunity and make joint endeavour for the enhancement of communication and coordination in a bid to resume talks at an early date. China will, as always, be committed to encouraging peace talks and playing a positive and constructive role in pushing for a peaceful settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue.
Q: It is reported that US Special Representative for North Korea Policy Davies will hold talks with DPRK First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan in Beijing from February 23. What is China's comment?
A: China supports all relevant parties' contact and dialogue and hopes that relevant dialogue will work out well and create conditions for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks at an early date.
Q: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Pillay recently accused China and Russia of exacerbating the violence in Syria by vetoing the draft resolution on the Syrian issue. What is China's comment? State Councillor Dai Bingguo said during his recent telephone conversation with US State Secretary Clinton that the Syrian issue is, in essence, Syria's internal affair. What role does China think should be played by the international community on the Syrian issue?
A: China has expounded on its position on the Syrian issue on many occasions. What we have done is upright and can withstand the test of history. China believes that the international community should play a positive role and create favorable conditions for the settlement of disputes and conflicts by all relevant parties in Syria through dialogue and consultation. China supports the efforts made by the Arab League and Arab countries for the political resolution of the Syrian issue and stands ready to continue to play a constructive role together with the international community.