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Blair to Discuss Trade Ties, Iran with Chinese PM - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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LONDON (AFP) -Visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was set to hold talks with his British counterpart Tony Blair including on strengthening trade ties, energy policy and resolving the Iran nuclear crisis.

Wen was calling on the British leader after arriving in London on his latest stop in Europe on Tuesday, when he also discussed trade and investment with British business leaders.

Other issues likely to come up include the European Union’s arms ban on China, which Beijing wants lifted 16 years after it was slapped on the country following the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

“A big feature will be energy and climate change and also the rapidly growing trade and investment relationship we have with China,” a spokesman for Blair’s Downing Street office told AFP.

The discussions in London were to focus on a range of international issues, including the Iran nuclear crisis — in which China is being pressed to support a threat of UN sanctions — as well as Africa and the Middle East, he said.

Blair visited Beijing in September, where he said China’s growing economic power must be matched by improvement in its record on democracy and human rights.

But the British leader regularly underlines the need for Britain to reform to face up to the challenges of emerging global giants like China, which is Britain’s 17th largest export market, according to British official figures.

Wednesday’s talks were not expected to launch eye-catching new initiatives but focus on expanding dialogue between the countries and taking forward the working agenda fostered in Beijing, the Downing Street spokesman said.

Britain’s priorities with Beijing also include promoting its integration into the international economic system, and lobbying in favour of Hong Kong, which it handed back to Beijing in 1997, according to the Foreign Office.

Blair and Wen were to hold one-on-one talks, round-table discussions and have lunch together.

Wen was also to meet Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, finance minister Gordon Brown and business leaders and the China Task Force, established in 2003 to broaden and deepen the relationship between Britain and China.

The Chinese premier’s foreign tour, between September 9 and 16, takes in Finland, Britain, Germany and Tajikistan, including the ninth China-European Union summit and the sixth Asia-Europe Meeting in Helsinki.

After their talks Wen and Blair were to hold a joint press conference around 12:00 p.m. (1100 GMT).

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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