Jakarta (AFP) April 30, 2011
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Saturday Beijing wants to boost cooperation in trade and security with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
In a policy speech on the last day of a three-day visit to Indonesia, the current chair of ASEAN and its biggest member, Wen extolled the virtues of an ASEAN-China free trade agreement (FTA) that came into effect in January.
"China is committed to deepening practical cooperation with ASEAN," Wen said.
He said China would accelerate the development of various areas from telecoms and electricity to infrastructure projects in the region, and would support efforts to boost transport links between ASEAN nations and China.
"Last year, China became ASEAN's biggest trading partner. We launched the largest FTA among developing countries and we have set the target of $500 billion in two-way trade by 2015," Wen said.
"China stands ready to work with ASEAN to maintain regional security and stability," he added.
ASEAN is comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Indonesian officials say Jakarta wants to renegotiate its part of the landmark free trade pact to protect vulnerable sectors from competition with Chinese manufacturers.
On Friday, Wen held talks with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and announced billions of dollars in loans for badly needed infrastructure projects in the archipelago.
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Panetta to Pentagon in Obama shake-up
Washington (AFP) April 27, 2011
President Barack Obama will Thursday name CIA director and Washington powerplayer Leon Panetta defense secretary, reshuffling his security team at a pivotal moment for US military strategy. Panetta, 72, will replace Robert Gates, who retires as Pentagon chief on June 30, and Obama plans to recall talismanic General David Petraeus from Afghanistan, who will end a decorated military career to ... read more
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