Japan, June 30 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel here Friday, with both sides calling for upholding multilateralism.
During a meeting on the sidelines of a summit of the Group of 20 major economies in the Japanese city of Osaka, the two leaders also agreed to discuss cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and strive for conclusion of the negotiations on the China-European Union (EU) investment agreement next year.
Xi pointed out that it is the basic consensus of the two governments and all sectors of society to maintain the overall direction of China-Germany cooperation. Given the increasingly complex and volatile international situation, it is indeed necessary for China and Germany, as all-round strategic partners, to maintain communication and coordination, he said.
China and Germany can continue to be partners of equal dialogue and mutual trust, Xi said, noting that China welcomes German businesses to regard it as a reliable trading partner and increase investment in the country.
He stressed that China's commitment to further opening-up is by no means an empty promise, and expressed hope that German companies can continue to explore the potential of the Chinese market.
Xi proposed that China and Germany work together to carry forward and foster a spirit of innovation and turn competition into a driving force of cooperation to achieve common development and progress.
He said that China has noticed that it is widely believed in Germany that China's development and innovation vitality will bring more opportunities to Germany, and China welcomes innovation cooperation between the two countries' businesses and research institutions in such fields as autonomous driving, artificial intelligence and 5G communication technology.
China and Germany need to work together to promote connectivity between Asia and Europe and build a new high ground for free trade, Xi said, noting that China is ready to work with Germany to jointly undertake the Belt and Road Initiative and strive to conclude negotiations on the China-EU investment treaty next year so as to start the China-EU free trade cooperation process at an early date.
China and Germany should also strengthen cooperation and make efforts to uphold multilateralism, promote international economic cooperation and improve global economic governance, he added.
For her part, Merkel said Germany hopes to enhance communication, coordination and cooperation with China under the current circumstances.
She said she looks forward to paying another visit to China in the near future.
Germany is willing to explore cooperation with China within the framework of the BRI, actively promote the development of EU relations with China, and strive to sign the EU-China investment agreement at an early date, she said.
Both Germany and China are committed to safeguarding multilateralism and hope to strengthen cooperation in areas such as tackling climate change and the World Trade Organization reform, she said.
In addition, Merkel said that Germany is deeply concerned with the negative impact exerted on the EU by unilateralism and willful use of coercive measures in trade relations.
The two leaders also exchanged views on the Iran nuclear issue. They agreed that relevant parties should abide by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, resolve the issue peacefully through dialogue and avoid further escalation of tensions.
Panmunjom, Jun 30 (AP/UNB) — With grins and handshakes, President Donald Trump welcomed North Korea's Kim Jong Un at the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone Sunday, seeking to revive talks on the pariah nation's nuclear program in a bid for a legacy-defining accord. Trump then became the first sitting American leader to step into North Korea.
The brief photo-op, another historic first in the yearlong rapprochement between the two technically warring nations, marks a return to face-to-face contact between the leaders since talks broke down during a summit in Vietnam in February. But it does little to erase significant doubts that remain about the future of the negotiations and the North's willingness to give up its stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Trump's brief crossing into North Korean territory marked the latest milestone in two years of roller-coaster diplomacy between the two nations, as personal taunts of "little rocket man" and threats to destroy the other have been ushered out by on-again, off-again talks, professions of love and flowery letters.
"I was proud to step over the line," Trump told Kim as they met in a building known as "Freedom House" on the South Korean side of the village. "It is a great day for the world."
Kim hailed the moment, saying of Trump, "I believe this is an expression of his willingness to eliminate all the unfortunate past and open a new future." He added that he was "surprised" when Trump invited to meet by a tweet on Saturday.
Peering into North Korea from atop Observation Post Ouellette, Trump told reporters before meeting Kim that there has been "tremendous" improvement since his first meeting with the North's leader in Singapore last year.
Trump claimed the situation used to be marked by "tremendous danger" but "after our first summit, all of the danger went away."
But North has yet to provide an accounting of its nuclear stockpile, let alone begin the process of dismantling its arsenal.
The meeting at the truce city of Panmunjom also represented a striking acknowledgement by Trump of the authoritarian Kim's legitimacy over a nation with an abysmal human rights record.
Trump's summit with Kim in Vietnam earlier this year collapsed without an agreement for denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. He became the first sitting U.S. president to meet with the leader of the isolated nation last year, when they signed an agreement in Singapore to bring the North toward denuclearization.
North Korea's nuclear threat has not been contained, Richard Haas, the president of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted Sunday. Haas added that the threat of conflict has subsided only because "the Trump administration has decided it can live (with) a (North Korean) nuclear program while it pursues the chimera of denuclearization."
Substantive talks between the nations have largely broken down since the Vietnam summit. The North has balked at Trump's insistence that it give up its weapons before it sees relief from crushing international sanctions. The U.S. has said the North must submit to "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" before sanctions are lifted.
Every president since Ronald Reagan has visited the 1953 armistice line, except for George H.W. Bush, who visited when he was vice president. The show of bravado and support for South Korea, one of America's closest military allies, has evolved over the years to include binoculars and bomber jackets.
Trump, ever the showman, sought to one-up his predecessors with a Kim meeting.
The leaders met at a time of escalating tensions. While North Korea has not recently tested a long-range missile that could reach the U.S., last month it fired off a series of short-range missiles. Trump has brushed off the significance of those tests, even as his own national security adviser, John Bolton, has said they violated U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Islamabad, Jun 29 (AP/UNB) — A fresh round of talks between the U.S. and the Taliban began in Qatar on Saturday, just days after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington is hoping for an Afghan peace agreement before Sept. 1.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed to The Associated Press that negotiations had begun. Originally scheduled to begin in the morning, the two sides sat down mid-afternoon for the seventh time in a series of direct talks that began last year following the appointment of U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
As in previous talks between Khalilzad and the Taliban, the focus will be on the withdrawal of U.S. troops and Taliban guarantees to prevent Afghanistan from again hosting militants who can stage global attacks.
Both sides say they have come to an understanding on the withdrawal and the guarantees but the details have yet to be worked out.
Both Khalilzad and Pompeo have said that agreements with the Taliban will come hand in hand with agreements on an intra-Afghan dialogue and a permanent cease fire.
Until now, the Taliban have refused to meet directly with President Ashraf Ghani's government but have held several rounds of talks with a collection of Afghan personalities from Kabul, including former President Hamid Karzai, several prominent opposition leaders and government peace council members. Both those meetings were held in Moscow earlier this year. The Taliban say they will meet with government officials but as ordinary Afghans and not representatives of the government __ at least not until an agreement with the U.S. is finalized, saying the U.S. is the final arbiter on the Taliban's biggest issue of troop withdrawal.
The Taliban have also refused a cease-fire. Taliban officials who have spoken to the AP on condition they not be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media, say they won't agree to a cease-fire until troop withdrawal is in place because returning Taliban to the battlefield with the same momentum of today if the U.S. reneges on its promises could be difficult.
Khalilzad has been in the region for several weeks meeting a legion of regional and Afghan officials, including Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Khalilzad has been relentless in his pursuit of an intra-Afghan dialogue after an earlier planned meeting between the government and the Taliban in Doha was scuttled when both sides disagreed on participants.
Still the latest round of talks comes amid heightened expectations that followed Pompeo's optimistic time frame for a pact to end Afghanistan's nearly 18-year war and America's longest-running military engagement.
Hong Kong, Jun 29 (AP/UNB) — Opponents of a proposed extradition law plan a protest Monday as Hong Kong marks the 22nd anniversary of the former British colony's handover to China, and police said they were taking steps to prevent the possible disruption of a flag-raising ceremony.
Hundreds of thousands of people have filled Hong Kong streets to protest the measure seen as eroding the territory's autonomy from Beijing. It would allow some suspects to be sent to mainland Chinese courts, which are controlled by the ruling Communist Party.
Organizers and police gave no estimate for possible turnout, but activists said some 2 million people, or more than one-quarter of Hong Kong's population of 7.5 million, took part in a protest march in early June.
Hong Kong was promised a "high degree of autonomy" when colonial rule ended in 1997, but residents complain that is being eroded.
Opponents want the extradition legislation withdrawn and for Hong Kong's chief executive, Carrie Lam, to step down, one of the protest organizers, Bonnie Leung of the group Civil Human Rights Front, said Saturday.
They also want an independent investigation into allegations of excessive force by police against protesters on June 12, Leung said at a news conference.
Leung said organizers obtained a police permit for the protest.
Officials speaking at a separate news conference said police were not "opposing parties" to the protesters.
"We are a partnership," said a police official, San Tsz-kin. "We are here to assist them to facilitate them how to conduct a public event in a safe and orderly manner."
However, San said authorities also are making preparations to prevent the possible disruption of a flag-raising to mark the day. The Chinese flag is raised each July 1 to commemorate the handover of the former colony.
Lam is due to attend the ceremony, the government said Saturday. It would be her first public appearance since she apologized on TV two weeks ago for mishandling the extradition legislation.
"Police have received information that someone will disturb the flag-raising ceremony," said San. "We have made appropriate arrangements."
Osaka, Jun 29 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump and China's Xi Jinping agreed to a cease-fire Saturday in their nations' yearlong trade war, averting for now an escalation feared by financial markets, businesses and farmers.
Trump said U.S. tariffs will remain in place against Chinese imports while negotiations continue. Additional trade penalties he has threatened against billions worth of other Chinese goods will not take effect for the "time being," he said, and the economic powers will restart stalled talks that have already gone 11 rounds.
"We're going to work with China where we left off," Trump said after a lengthy meeting with Xi while the leaders attended the Group of 20 summit in Osaka.
While Trump said relations with China were "right back on track," doubts persist about the two nations' willingness to compromise on a long-term solution. Among the sticking points: The U.S. contends that Beijing steals technology and coerces foreign companies into handing over trade secrets; China denies it engages in such practices.
The apparent truce continues a pattern for Trump and Xi, who have professed their friendship and paused protectionist measures, only to see negotiations later break down.
The United States has imposed 25% import taxes on $250 billion in Chinese products and is threatening to target an additional $300 billion, extending the tariffs to virtually everything China ships to America.
China has countered with tariffs on $110 billion in American goods, focusing on agricultural products in a direct and painful shot at Trump supporters in the U.S. farm belt.
Some progress seemed to be made in a dispute involving the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, which the Trump administration has branded a national security threat and barred it from buying American technology. Trump said Saturday he would allow U.S. companies to sell their products to Huawei, but he was not yet willing to remove the company from a trade blacklist.
The U.S. has tried to rally other nations to block Huawei from their upcoming 5G systems.
The Trump-Xi meeting between the two leaders was the centerpiece of four days of diplomacy in Asia for Trump, whose re-election chances have been put at risk by the trade dispute that has hurt American farmers and battered global markets. Tensions rose after negotiations collapsed last month.
Trump said the talks with Xi went "probably even better than expected."
Both men struck a cautiously optimistic tone after they posed for photographs.
"We've had an excellent relationship," Trump told Xi as the meeting opened, "but we want to do something that will even it up with respect to trade."
Xi recounted the era of "pingpong diplomacy" that helped jump-start U.S.-China relations two generations ago. Since then, he said, "one basic fact remains unchanged: China and the United States both benefit from cooperation and lose in confrontation."
"Cooperation and dialogue are better than friction and confrontation," he added.
The meeting with Xi was one of three that Trump held Saturday with world leaders who display authoritarian tendencies.
Trump had his first face-to-face discussion with Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman since U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that the crown prince directed the murder of Washington Post columnist and American resident Jamal Khashoggi last year.
Trump, who referred to the Saudi royal as his "friend," has long tried to minimize the prince's role in the murder and has been reluctant to criticize the killing of the Saudi critic at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul last year. Trump views Saudi Arabia as the lynchpin of U.S.' Middle East strategy to counter Iran.
At a news conference after the summit, Trump said Khashoggi's killing was "horrible," but that Saudi Arabia had "been a terrific ally." Trump suggested he was satisfied with steps that the kingdom was taking to prosecute some of those involved, while he claimed that "nobody so far has pointed directly a finger" at Saudi Arabia's future king.
U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that bin Salman must have at least known of the plot.
The summit came a week after Trump pulled back from ordering a military strike on Iran for downing an American unmanned spy plane. Iran now stands on the threshold of breaching uranium enrichment thresholds set in a 2015 nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew. Trump said he would not preview his response should Iran top that limit, but said, "We cannot let Iran have a nuclear weapon."
Trump also met with Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an ostensible NATO ally whom the U.S. sees as drifting dangerously toward Russia's sphere of influence.
Trump said the two will "look at different solutions" to Turkey's planned purchase of the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile system. U.S. officials have threatened to halt the sale of U.S.-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Turkey if the Russian purchase goes through; Erdogan has called it a done deal.
"Turkey has been a friend of ours," Trump said. He blamed the Obama administration for not agreeing to sell U.S.-made Patriot missile batteries to Turkey, calling the situation a "mess" and "not really Erdogan's fault."
A day earlier, Trump met with Russia's Vladimir Putin and, with a smirk and a finger point, jokingly told him, "Don't meddle with the election." It was their first meeting since special counsel Robert Mueller concluded that Russia extensively interfered with the 2016 campaign.
Pressed whether he pushed the issue more seriously in private, Trump said he had raised it with Putin, adding, "You know he denies it, totally. How many times can you get someone to deny something?"
Putin told reporters that "we talked about it," but he did not elaborate. He said he believes it's necessary to "turn the page" in relations with the U.S., which have plunged to the lowest level since the Cold War times.