CHINESE PREMIER MAKES HISTORIC ARRIVAL IN FIJI

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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, April 4) – Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has arrived in Nadi by special plane for an official visit to Fiji at the invitation of Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

On his arrival, Premier Wen was met by Prime Minister Qarase who introduced him to army commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama before the Chinese Premier reviewed a guard of honor.

During his stay in Nadi, Wen is expected to meet Fiji leaders and deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the First China-Pacific Island Countries Economic and Development Cooperation Forum slated for April 5-6.

[PIR editor’s note: Nadi is on the southwest coast of Fiji’s Viti Levu Island.]

Fiji is the second leg of Premier Wen's four-nation tour, which will also take him to New Zealand and Cambodia.

The visit is of great significance to promoting ties between China and Fiji and other Pacific Island countries as well, said a Chinese official.

This is the first official visit to a Pacific Island country by a Chinese premier, said Liu Jieyi, director-general of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

The visit is set to succeed in enhancing mutual trust, deepening bilateral cooperation, broadening exchanges, seeking common development and promoting the long-term stable development of friendly relations and cooperation between China and Fiji, said Liu.

Fiji, which is a major player among the Pacific island countries, is also the first Pacific Island country to have forged diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China in 1975.

In recent years, China and Fiji have witnessed stable development of bilateral ties, and the two countries see new opportunities to further promote their relationship, said Liu.

China and Fiji have been maintaining high-level exchanges and contacts and expanding fields of cooperation.

The trade volume between China and Fiji stood at US$45.27million in 2005, up by 16.9 per cent from the previous year. There is also great potential for the two countries to cooperate in such areas as agriculture, fishery and forestry, said Liu.

[PIR editor’s note: According to March 30 PIR news reports, Fiji cabinet ministers approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on March 28 between Fiji and China to promote collaboration in the field of transport infrastructure development and civil aviation.]

During Premier Wen's stay in Fiji, he will hold talks with Fijian President Josefa Iloilo and Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

The leaders will exchange views on Sino-Fijian ties and other regional and international issues of mutual concern. They will also chart, in a comprehensive way, the future development of bilateral ties.

The two sides will sign a series of bilateral cooperation agreements covering trade and economy, economic and technological cooperation, quality inspection and telecommunications.

April 5, 2006

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

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