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Chinese Vice Premier Meets Singaporean PM
    2008-10-23 23:11:18     Xinhua

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang met with visiting Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Beijing on Thursday, calling on the two countries to explore new fields and ways for cooperation in an effort to make new progress on the bilateral relations.

Li highlighted the development of the bilateral relations in the recent years, noting that the two have become important partners in the region.

"The signing of the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) has become a landmark for the bilateral trade relations in a new stage," Li said, noting that China values its relations with Singapore and is willing to learn from each other to promote the bilateral ties.

China and Singapore on Thursday signed a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) ahead of the seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) to be held here on Oct. 24-25.

Negotiations for the China-Singapore FTA began in October 2006.

Trade between the two countries reached 47.15 billion U.S. dollars in 2007. Singapore is China's eighth largest trade partner and the seventh largest investor.

Li also called for efforts to deal with the current international financial crisis, saying that the international community should strengthen coordination and increase dialogue and take effective measures to promote the international financial stability and economic development.

"China will make efforts to safeguard the development of its economy to contribute to the stability of the world economy," the vice premier told Lee.

Lee spoke highly of the China-Singapore relations, saying that Singapore was delighted to forge FTA with China.

He said the two nations have intensified cooperation in various fields, expressing Singapore's commitment to boosting the bilateral cooperation with mutual benefits.

Lee arrived in China for an official visit at the invitation of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. He will attend the seventh Asia-Europe Meeting.

Established as a high-level forum between governments of Asia and Europe, the ASEM this year is expected to focus on how to respond to the current global financial crisis, rather than the earlier planned topics like climate change, sustainable development and energy security.

Launched in 1996 as an informal dialogue mechanism, the ASEM now includes 45 members, representing more than 50 percent of the world's gross domestic product.

 
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