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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Liu Weimin's Regular Press Conference on February 16, 2012

Liu Weimin started the press conference with the following announcement:

The Chinese Government's Special Envoy, Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun will visit Syria from February 17 to 18.

Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun will exchange views with the Syrian Government and parties concerned on the current situation in Syria to push for a peaceful and appropriate settlement of the Syrian crisis. Relevant itinerary is being arranged.

Q: The opening ceremony of the Japanese side for the China-Japan Year of Friendly Exchanges will be held today. Please brief us on that. Heads of seven Japan-China friendship groups will attend the leaders' meeting of China-Japan non-governmental friendship groups and the opening ceremony of the Year of Friendly Exchanges. Which Chinese leader will meet with them?

A: The Japanese opening ceremony of the China-Japan Year of Friendly Exchanges will be held in Beijing on February 16. State Councillor Liu Yandong will attend and meet with the Japanese delegation led by Japanese Prime Minister's Special Envoy, former Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Masayuki Naoshima.

The Year of Friendly Exchange serves as an important measure to enhance friendly sentiments between people from China and Japan and to deepen China-Japan strategic relationship of mutual benefit. The two sides will host a wide variety of friendly exchanges and activities in areas such as culture, education, science and technology, tourism, media, youth and sister cities.

China warmly welcomes and attaches great importance to the joint visit of the heads of seven Japan-China friendship groups to China. Seven Japan-China friendship groups serve as an important bridge that promotes China-Japan friendly exchanges and cooperation. Heads of these groups have long been making important contribution to the improvement and development of China-Japan relations. CPPCC Chairman Jia Qinglin will meet with them.

Q: World Bank President Zoellick reportedly said that he will leave office at the end of his five-year tenure on June 30. What is China's comment on President Zoellick's performance during his term of office? The US Government has expressed the hope that an American will be chosen as the next World Bank President. Is China of the view that the position should be assumed by someone from developing countries?

A: During President Zoellick's tenure, he leads the World Bank to mobilize various resources in helping vast developing countries to meet the challenge of the international financial crisis and promote the global cause of poverty alleviation and development. President Zoellick also actively advocates reforms of the World Bank governance structure and strives to give more say and representation to developing countries in the World Bank. President Zoellick pays great attention to the cooperation between the World Bank and China, making positive contribution to China's poverty alleviation and development.

On selecting a new president for the World Bank, we hope that it will be done in accordance with the merit principle of open and fair competition.

Q: Please tell us the arrangement of Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun's visit to Syria in detail. Will he meet with leaders of Syrian opposition groups? What message does China want to convey to Syria through this visit?

A: The itinerary of Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun's visit to Syria is still being arranged. The message we want to deliver is that China is committed to pushing for a peaceful and appropriate settlement of the Syrian crisis and would like to go on promoting peace talks and play a constructive role in resolving the Syrian crisis.

Q: Secretary Jalili of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council has written back to High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ashton. What is China's comment?

A: China has noted relevant report. China has been working on the Iranian side. During Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu's recent visit to Iran, he urged the Iranian side to reply to the EU letter, carry out earnest dialogue with P5+1 countries on the Iranian nuclear issue and step up cooperation with the IAEA. The Iranian side made positive remarks and pledged to write back immediately. China appreciates Iran's reply to the EU as well as its expression of readiness to start negotiation with P5+1 countries on the Iranian nuclear issue.

We call on all parties to seize the opportunity, restart the dialogue process between P5+1 countries with Iran and drive the Iranian nuclear issue back to the correct track of dialogue and cooperation. China will continue to play a constructive role to this end.

Q: It is reported that Iran announced on February 15 important achievement in its nuclear program, including the progress made in producing 20% enriched uranium. What is China's comment?

A: China believes that Iran, as a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), is entitled to peaceful use of nuclear energy but should also honor relevant international obligations. China always maintains that dialogue and cooperation is the only correct way out for a comprehensive, long-term and appropriate settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue. What is pressing now is to activate the dialogue process between P5+1 countries and Iran, strengthen Iran's cooperation with the IAEA and restore the international community's confidence in the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program. We hope that relevant parties will increase diplomatic efforts and create enabling environment for the resumption of dialogue and the enhancement of cooperation.

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