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31-10-08, 09:08
Beijing - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday said her country wanted to cooperate with China as a key part of efforts to resolve the global financial crisis.

"Cooperation with China is of utmost importance" for Germany, Merkel told reporters after talks on the financial crisis with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

"It is important to bring China into a new financial system," she said, adding that China was already making efforts.

"With China's strong economic growth, China by itself is already making a contribution," Merkel said.

In a speech earlier on Thursday, Wen said cooperation with Germany was "extremely important" and that China "counts on investment from Germany."

Merkel and Wen met before they join about 40 other heads of state at the biannual Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) on Friday and Saturday.

German officials said the fact that Merkel was one of the few foreign leaders making a formal state visit to China for the ASEM summit showed the importance of ties between the two nations.

Merkel, who was scheduled to meet President Hu Jintao Friday, said she raised human rights issues, including the situation of China's Tibetan and Uighur minorities, during her talks, adding that Germany wanted to continue dialogue with China on human rights.

She welcomed Thursday's award of the EU's Sakharov Prize for human rights to recently jailed Chinese dissident Hu Jia.

"The German government has always called for the release of Hu Jia and will continue to do so," she said.

Merkel said she did not expect the issue to cast a cloud over the ASEM summit.

"This case belongs to the category where China and Europe are of different opinions," she said.

Two rights groups had appealed to Merkel to raise the situation of Tibetans and Uighurs with Chinese leaders.

Merkel should press China for "tangible results from the dialogue between the Dalai Lama's representatives and Chinese officials," Kate Saunders, communications director of the International Campaign for Tibet, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Saunders said the ASEM summit was taking place "at a time of severe repression against peaceful dissent in Tibet" after anti-Chinese protests earlier this year by Tibetans supporting the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader.

A European-based group representing China's mainly Muslim Uighur minority also urged Merkel to press China to allow international investigations of claims that Uighurs were involved in several plots to attack the Beijing Olympic Games in August.

"We hope that Merkel can ask, through diplomatic channels, for an international investigation of their claims," Dilxat Raxit of the World Uighur Congress told dpa by telephone from Munich.

"They're looking for an excuse to control the Uighur people," Raxit said of China's terrorism claims, which included the listing of eight "most wanted" suspects this week.

"Nobody knows these people," he said. "We have have never heard of these eight people."

The ASEM summit was also expected to be dominated by talks on the financial crisis with climate change as the other major topic for the 27 European and 16 Asian nations.



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