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EU, China to sign several agreements, including one on nuclear cooperation

Brussels, Dec 6, IRNA -- The European Union and China are set to sign a number of new agreements during their 7th annual summit on Wednesday in The Hague to further boost their strategic partnership.

"We have prepared a very rich agenda that covers all aspects of our bilateral relations which have grown tremendously in the past years," EU sources told journalists in Brussels Monday.

The EU will raise topics that include illegal migration, human rights, trade ties and international developments like Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Taiwan and Burma/Myanmar.

The two sides will sign a Joint Declaration on Non-Proliferation and Arms Control as well as a Euratom agreement which opens the opportunities for both parties to benefit from technology transfer and knowledge sharing, and encourages and facilitates R&D cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

"The EU in particular will benefit from access to the technology behind China's state-of-the-art nuclear energy facilities, at a time when Europe will have to start closing down its ageing experimental nuclear reactors," noted a Commission statement.

An agreement on customs cooperation will also be concluded. "This agreement is very important regarding counterfeiting measures," said the sources.

EU and China will sign the Erasmus Mundus agreement to provide more scholarships to Chinese students to study in Europe and will improve partnerships between EU and Chinese universities.

An estimated 150,000 Chinese students are studying in European universities.

"We also would like European students to go to China, but it is not included in this program," said the sources.

The EU wants to start negotiations with China next year on re-admission agreement of Chinese illegal immigrants in Europe, said the sources.

The EU will be represented at the one-day summit by Dutch Prime Minister Jan Balkenende, the current President of the EU Council, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and Commissioner for External Trade, Peter Mandelson.

The Chinese delegation will be led by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

Trade will also be an important issue for discussion. Total two-way trade was worth 135 billion euro in 2003.

China is the EU's second largest non-European trading partner after the US, and the EU is China's second largest export market.

In recent years, EU companies have invested considerably in China bringing stocks of EU Foreign Development Investment to over 26 billion euro.

On human rights issue, the EU side will raise Tibet and Taiwan.

The EU is 'not happy with the progress made. We want to see more progress in human rights issues', said the sources.

China wants the EU to lift its arms embargo imposed following the Tiannanmen Square crackdown in 1989.

The EU will send a 'positive signal' to China but is not expected to lift the embargo.

"At this point we won't be able to go any further," said the sources.

China's implementation of its WTO commitments, the abolition of textiles quotas in the end of 2004, and new mechanisms for further economic and sectoral cooperation between the EU and China are some of the other topics for discussion.

China's request to the EU to be granted full market economy status will also be discussed.

... Payvand News - 12/6/04 ... --

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