HANOI, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday met separately with the prime ministers of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in Hanoi ahead of a series of summits between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its partners.
At the meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Wen hailed Vietnam's preparation for the upcoming meetings, saying that China would join with Vietnam to ensure the success of the meetings at a time of profound changes going on in the international situation.
Wen called for proper handling of the issue of South China Sea, saying it is of vital importance to the sound and stable development of China-Vietnam relations.
He noted that China and Vietnam have established a negotiation mechanism to solve the issue, and he hoped the two countries would discuss and sign an agreement on basic principles guiding the solution to the issues of the sea as early as possible.
Dung agreed with Wen's remarks.
Expressing the high importance China placed on the summits, Wen said China would strengthen communication and coordination with Vietnam and work with all sides concerned to push forward East Asian cooperation.
Wen said friendship and cooperation have remained the mainstream of China-Vietnam relations since the establishment of the bilateral diplomatic ties 60 years ago. He said sound and stable development of the relationship is of vital importance to both sides and the region.
The premier vowed that China would maintain high-level contacts with Vietnam, establish a hotline between leaders of the two countries, and strengthen consultation between all departments to enhance their mutual trust, deal with disputes appropriately and promote common interest.
Wen also called for an early signing of a five-year trade cooperation plan between the two countries. He urged the two sides to promote pragmatic cooperation in all areas, develop a balanced and sustainable trade relationship, and further strengthen cultural cooperation.
Dung said the Chinese premier's attendance at the summits shows the importance China attached to East Asian cooperation and its support to Vietnam. He also congratulated Wen on China's successful holding of the Shanghai Expo.
He said Vietnam attached high importance to promoting the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation with China, which was also a priority of Vietnam's foreign policy.
Vietnam would maintain high-level exchanges of visits and friendly exchanges at all levels with China, strengthen the two countries' political mutual trust, deepen cooperation in such areas as trade, agriculture, investment, infrastructure construction, press and communication, enhance coordination and cooperation in regional affairs, and make an active contribution to the peace and common development of East Asia, the prime minister pledged.
Wen also met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on bilateral relations and issues of common concern, saying that the China-Cambodia bilateral friendship had stood the test of time.
Hun Sen agreed with his Chinese counterpart and told him that his government holds that the issue of the South China Sea should not be internationalized or multilateralized.
The issue should be resolved through bilateral consultations by the countries concerned, he said.
Wen praised Hun Sen's position on this issue. He reiterated that China would, as ever, work with the countries concerned to earnestly implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, enhance mutual trust and friendly cooperation, safeguard the peace and stability of the South China Sea, and try to resolve related bilateral disputes appropriately.
Wen said that being good neighbors, good friends and good partners, China and Cambodia have maintained a high level of mutual trust despite rapid and profound changes in international and regional situations, having promoted and deepened cooperation in various fields and having supported each other on key international and regional issues.
The Chinese premier said that China would like to make concerted efforts with Cambodia to upgrade and enrich bilateral ties comprehensively. He also noted that China would support the Cambodian government to promote development in agriculture and infrastructure as well as human resources.
Hun Sen said his government is grateful to China for its gracious help in Cambodia's national reconciliation and economic and social development, noting that relations between China and Cambodia have withstood the test of time and thus have much room for further development.
Chinese enterprises are welcome to participate actively in Cambodia's economic development, he said.
In the meeting with Laotian Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh, Wen said China was willing to work together with the Laotian side to build on the bilateral friendship and boost exchanges and cooperation.
Wen urged the early signing of a blueprint for bilateral economic cooperation, saying China attached great importance to cooperation with Laos in infrastructure, human resources development and poverty elimination and was willing to offer support and assistance in these areas.
China would adhere to the policy of pursuing peace and friendly ties, equality and mutual development with its neighbors, and was willing to carry on the high-level exchanges between the two countries and between the Communist Party of China and the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, he said.
China was also willing to work together with Laos to push forward the relations between China and the ASEAN, Wen said.
He also called on the two sides to make use of the coordination function of the joint economic commission and the cooperation mechanism between China's southern province of Yunnan and the nine northern provinces of Laos to facilitate bilateral trade and investment.
Both countries should also make the best of the opportunities of the China-ASEAN free trade area to conduct mutually complementary cooperation and further vitalize bilateral economic and trade ties, Wen said.
Bouasone thanked China for its support and assistance over the years, and reiterated Laos' adherence to the one-China policy.
Laos stood ready to work closely with China to deepen exchanges and cooperation in various fields and give full play to the China-ASEAN free trade area to upgrade economic and trade cooperation, he said.
Wen arrived in Hanoi on Thursday afternoon. He is expected to attend the 13th summit between China and the ASEAN; the 13th summit between ASEAN, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK); and the fifth East Asia Summit. He will also attend a meeting with the leaders of Japan and the ROK.
The summit meeting between ASEAN and China, the first since the launching of China-ASEAN free trade area on Jan. 1, is expected to invigorate the increasingly strong bilateral ties between the two sides.
Bilateral trade increased 44 percent in the first nine months of this year, registering a record high of 211.3 billion U.S. dollars.
"This is the eighth time I have attended ASEAN summit meetings. The situation has changed a lot, but I am still very confident that the meetings will succeed as expected," Wen told reporters on the plane.
"China is developing very fast and both sides have benefited from the bilateral cooperation. Bilateral trade between China and ASEAN has surpassed 200 billion U.S. dollars as of now and is very likely to surpass 300 billion dollars by the end of this year," he said.
Briefing reporters before Wen's visit, Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue, described the visit as "an important event" by the head of the Chinese government to strengthen ties with neighboring countries.
"As a key member of Asia, China has vehemently supported and actively participated in East Asia cooperation," he said.
China would, as ever, attend the summits with a view to boosting friendship, cooperation and common development, he said.
Apart from enhancing cooperation and exchanging views on regional issues, the East Asia summit is expected to formally invite Russia and the United States to become members of the forum.
Editor: Mu Xuequan