Tensions put on hold as Merkel rounds off China trip | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 03.02.2012
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Tensions put on hold as Merkel rounds off China trip

International tensions over Iran and Syria were put on the back burner as Chancellor Angela Merkel met Chinese President Hu Jintao. The two leaders instead expressed optimism about a blossoming of relations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People on Friday, Feb. 3, 2012 in Beijing. Merkel is on a two-day visit to China from Thursday. (Foto:Lintao Zhang, Pool/AP/dapd)

President Hu said he was sure relations would be stregthened

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Hu Jintao exchanged conciliatory words as Merkel rounded off her visit to China on Friday, largely ignoring public disputes between the two countries.

Hu said that Merkel's visit would strengthen the "trust and understanding" between the two countries.

Merkel pointed to the fact that Germany was holding a Chinese Year of Culture, and that China was the partner nation at this year's Hanover Messe trade fair, as examples of the strong links shared.

The chancellor also spoke of her negotiations the previous day with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. Both had agreed, she told journalists, that "every country in Europe must meet its responsibilities and play its part."

While announcing that China might contribute to the eurozone rescue fund, Wen gave no specific monetary commitment.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing February 2, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)

Merkel called on Beijing to use its influence on Iran

"China is investigating and evaluating ways, through the International Monetary Fund, to be more deeply involved in solving the European debt problem via ESM/EFSF channels," Wen told reporters at a press conference with Merkel, referring to the permanent and temporary European bailout funds.

As well as having talks with the president on Friday morning, Merkel also met with the leader of the National People's Congress, Wu Bangguo.

Talks in industrial South

Following the press conference, Merkel departed for the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou - a center of Chinese economic might - for talks with German business representatives there. She was also due to meet the state ordained Catholic Bishop of the city before returning to Germany.

A day earlier, Merkel called on Beijing to use its influence to persuade Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program, which the West has long suspected is meant for a nuclear bomb. However a leading Communist party newspaper on Friday - thought to be indicative of the government's views - appeared to dismiss the idea. Instead, it favored economic engagement with Tehran over Western-backed sanctions.

In addition to making calls for Beijing to influence Tehran, the German government is also keen to obtain Chinese support for a UN resolution condemning the violence against anti-government protesters in Syria.

rc/acb (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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