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BEIJING, China (December 17, 1998 - The National/AAP)---Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Bill Skate has called for increased Chinese investment in PNG to help develop the Melanesian country's economy.

Mr. Skate made the request during talks last night with Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji.

The PNG Prime Minister is on a five-day official visit to China.

Mr. Zhu and Mr. Skate agreed to expand and strengthen economic and trade cooperation between the two nations during the talks at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

Mr. Zhu said PNG was one of China's key trade partners in the South Pacific, adding his country was willing to jointly explore new investment channels.

Mr. Skate said he hoped more Chinese enterprises would invest and play a more active role in PNG's economic construction.

China and PNG have enjoyed diplomatic relations since the Pacific nation was granted independence by Australia in 1976.

Mr. Zhu noted the absence of basic conflicts of interest and the fact the two nations hold either the same or similar views on international and regional affairs, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Mr. Skate acknowledged continuous progress in bilateral cooperation since the establishment of diplomatic relations.

"The Government of Papua New Guinea is delighted to see that China enjoys political stability and rapid economic development as it confidently marches towards the 21st century," Mr. Skate said during the talks.

Mr. Skate said the purpose of his visit was to learn more about China's experience in economic construction.

He also reaffirmed his government would continue to adhere to the "one China policy," in which Taiwan is considered a breakaway province of China.

Mr. Skate is the third Pacific Island leader to visit China in the past two months, following delegations from Tonga and the Cook Islands.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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