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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on February 17, 2014

2014/02/17

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying held a press conference on February 17, 2014.

Q: A new round talks between Iran and the P5+1 is just around the corner. Will China send a delegation? What is China's expectation for the talks?

A: The P5+1 and Iran have agreed to hold the new round of talks in Vienna on February 18. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong will lead a delegation to the talks.

The Iranian nuclear talks are at a crucial stage. Last November, the P5+1 and Iran reached the first step agreement, which came into effect on January 20. This represents a virtuous cycle of curbing Iran's nuclear program and relaxing sanctions against Iran.

The upcoming talk, the first of its kind in 2014, marks the beginning of negotiations on a comprehensive agreement, hence close attention worldwide. Pushing for positive results of the talks will help build up the good momentum of dialogue and cooperation and maintain regional peace and stability. This requires joint efforts from all parties.

China believes that dialogue and negotiation is the only correct way to appropriately resolve the Iranian nuclear issue. To solve the complicated and sensitive issue, we should have both the firm confidence in a negotiated peaceful settlement and an objective and result-oriented attitude. We hope that all parties will continue consultation on an equal footing based on the first step agreement, step up diplomatic efforts, demonstrate more flexibility and sincerity, seek common ground and resolve differences so as to move the negotiation process forward.

China has been making tremendous efforts and playing an active and constructive role in the negotiation process. China is ready to continue to work with all parties for a diplomatic and peaceful settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue.

Q: The Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK of the UN Human Rights Council is expected to release a report on the human rights situation in the DPRK. The report could pave the way for the prosecution of DPRK officials in the International Criminal Court. What is China's position on that?

A: China maintains that differences in human rights should be handled through constructive dialogue and cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual respect. To bring human right issues to the International Criminal Court does not help improve a country's human rights conditions.

Q: It is learned that relevant officials from the Foreign Ministry will visit the DPRK soon. Please confirm that and brief us on the special background and consideration of the visit. What will be the major topics?

A: At the invitation of the DPRK Foreign Ministry, Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin will pay a visit to the DPRK from February 17 to 20. During his visit, Vice Foreign Minister Liu will hold diplomatic consultations with officials from the DPRK Foreign Ministry and meet heads of relevant departments. The two sides will exchange views on China-DPRK relations, regional situation and other issues of common interest. This is a regular contact between the two foreign ministries.

Q: The second round of talks between the Syrian government and the opposition reportedly wrapped up on February 15 without a date being set for the next round of peace talks. But the two parties agreed on the agenda for the next round. What is China's comment?

A: The Syrian issue, involving numerous differences and disputes, is very complex. The Geneva negotiation is an ongoing process. It calls for gradual efforts by both parties to build trust and find a way to iron out differences through dialogue and consultation. We cannot expect to solve all problems after just one or two meetings. China urges the two parties to remain on the track of seeking political settlement, cooperate with and support Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi's mediation efforts and keep the momentum of negotiation. Given the persisting turmoil within Syria, the two parties should bear in mind the country's future and destiny and increase the sense of urgency for dialogue and negotiation. The international community, on its part, should do more to push forward dialogue and negotiation between the two parties and create an enabling external environment.

Q: It is reported that a cabinet was successfully formed by the new Prime Minister of Lebanon Tammam Salam on February 15. What is China's comment?

A: China welcomes the new government, which China hopes could help Lebanon address multiple challenges it confronts. China also hopes that various parties in Lebanon can take the new development as an opportunity and continue to seek resolution through dialogue and consultation in a joint effort to uphold national security and stability.

Q: It is reported that since the 2010 nuclear security summit in Washington, the US government has been pressing Japan to return 331kg of weapons-grade plutonium given to the country during the Cold War. The plutonium, which is stored at Japan's Atomic Energy Agency, could be used to produce 40 to 50 nuclear weapons. Japan has given in to the repeated demands from the US. The US plans to reach an accord with Japan before the nuclear security summit in the Netherlands this March. According to a separate report, there is still about 44 tonnes of reactor-grade plutonium in Japan. What is China's comment?

A: We have seen relevant reports. China attaches great importance to nuclear proliferation risks and potential threats posed by nuclear materials to regional security. China has grave concerns over Japan's possession of weapons-grade nuclear materials.

China believes that Japan, as a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, should strictly observe its international obligations of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear security. The IAEA requires all parties to maintain a best possible balance of supply and demand of nuclear materials as contained in the Guidelines for the Management of Plutonium.

Japan's large stockpile of nuclear materials including weapons-grade materials on its territory is an issue concerning nuclear material security, proliferation risks and big supply-demand imbalance. I believe that the rationale behind the IAEA's requirement for supply-demand balance is self-evident. Only when there is such a balance, there can be no hidden dangers that may risk peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Japan's failure to hand back its stored weapons-grade nuclear materials to the relevant country has ignited concerns of the international community including China. China hopes to see explanation from Japan.

We urge Japan to adopt a responsible attitude toward international security, earnestly observe non-proliferation obligations and return the aforementioned weapons-grade nuclear materials as soon as possible. We also urge Japan to take concrete steps to tell the international community how it is going to redress the big supply-demand imbalance of nuclear materials on its territory as required by the IAEA.

Q: Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said that Japan may allow the United States to bring nuclear weapons into the country in an emergency. What is China's comment?

A: Observing the three non-nuclear principles is one of the important signs of Japan's post-war path of peaceful development. It is also crucial to the maintenance of regional peace and stability. We hope that the Japanese government will continue to adhere to the principles.

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