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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on February 23, 2012

Q: Yemen held presidential election recently. How does China comment?

A: China welcomes the holding of presidential election in Yemen as scheduled. We hope all parties in Yemen will make joint efforts to ensure a peaceful and orderly political transitional process in order to restore social order at an early date and realize national stability and development.

Q: Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd announced his resignation on February 22. How does China comment?

A: We have noted relevant reports. This is an internal affair of Australia. At present, China-Australia relations have maintained good momentum of development. Taking the 40th anniversary of China-Australia diplomatic relations as an opportunity, we are ready to work with the Australian side to enhance dialogue, deepen cooperation and push for the sound and stable development of China-Australia relations.

Q: It is reported that South Sudan has just expelled the head of a joint venture set up by PetroChina and PATRONAS, a Malaysian oil company. How does China comment?

A: We have noted relevant reports. Please refer to PetroChina for the specifics. Practical cooperation between China and South Sudan is based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, bringing tangible benefits to both peoples. We hope relevant parties will step up communication and consultation and remove misunderstanding for the purpose of long-term cooperation.

Q: Buenos Aires, Capital of Argentina, witnessed a train derailment accident on February 22, leaving huge casualties. How does China comment? Do you have information of Chinese casualties?

A: China expresses its deep condolences over the victims of the accident and its sincere sympathy to the family of the victims and the injured.

The Chinese Embassy in Argentina took the accident seriously. It launched the contingency mechanism of consular protection by sending consular officials to the scene immediately. As far as we know, the on-site rescue work has been basically completed. Three Chinese nationals suffered slight injuries and left the hospital after receiving treatment.

Q: Will China attend the "Friends of Syria" meeting to be held in Tunis on February 24?

A: China is still further studying the role and mechanism of the meeting.

Q: It is reported that an international meeting on aviation carbon emission has just concluded in Moscow during which China took part in signing relevant agreement on opposing the EU's unilateral charge of carbon tax on foreign airlines. Please brief us on it.

A: The Civil Aviation Administration, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Foreign Ministry of China jointly led a delegation to a meeting on joint response to the EU's attempt to incorporate international aviation into its Emissions Trading Scheme in Moscow. Many countries including China are opposed to the EU's unilateral move on international aviation emission. The EU's decision has violated the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and relevant principles and regulations of the International Civil Aviation Organization. We hope the EU can bear in mind the larger picture of international cooperation on climate change, the sustainable development of international aviation and China-EU relations, adopt a constructive and practical attitude and engage in full communication and coordination with all parties concerned including China so as to seek a proper settlement of the issue acceptable to all.

Q: It is reported that after visiting Iran, the IAEA delegation remarked that the two sides failed to reach agreement on clarifying the outstanding issues of the Iranian nuclear programme and that it was disappointed at Iran's denial of its access to relevant nuclear facilities. How does China comment?

A: We have noted relevant reports. We hope the IAEA will intensify cooperation with Iran and clarify relevant issues so as to restore international confidence in the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme. At present, there are positive signs in the dialogue and negotiation on the Iranian nuclear issue. We hope all parties concerned will work together to play a constructive role in the early resumption of dialogue.

Q: The third DPRK-US high-level dialogue is being held in Beijing. How does China comment?

A: China always holds that early resumption of the Six-Party Talks and full and balanced implementation of the September 19 Joint Statement serve the common interests of all parties. Dialogue and negotiation is the only effective means to solve relevant issues on the Korean Peninsula. The Six-Party Talks is an effective platform to address the concerns of all parties in a balanced manner and realize denuclearization on the Peninsula. China supports relevant parties' efforts to improve and develop their relations in order to push forward denuclearization on the Peninsula and the Six-Party Talks process. Currently, all parties should stick to the direction and goal of the Six-Party Talks and accumulate and create conditions for the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks.

After the press conference, a question was raised as follows: since the middle of January, Tuareg armed forces, the "Azawad National Liberation Movement" in the north of Mali, has been attacking the Malian government forces in an attempt to seek independence. Currently, the security situation there has quickly deteriorated with tens of thousands of refugees fleeing to Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and other neighbouring countries. How does China comment?

Hong Lei replied that China is concerned over the situation in the north of Mali and is worried about the worsening security and humanitarian situation there. China supports the unremitting efforts of the Malian government for national unity, territorial integrity and ethnic solidarity. We call on all parties to properly solve political disputes through dialogue, consultation and other peaceful means in order to restore national peace and stability at an early date. China appreciates and supports the active efforts of relevant countries and the international community to promote the restoration of peace and stability in Mali.

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