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EU’s Ashton begins five-day Asian tour

‘We are inter-dependent equals who share broad common interests’:

BELGIUM: EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton left Sunday for Beijing where she will hold talks on foreign affairs and security issues on the first leg of a five-day Asian tour. “Our partnership with China is one of inter-dependent equals who share broad common interests, and we have an obligation to engage on a wide range of global issues,” Ashton said in a departure statement.

The meeting will be the third round of the high-level EU-China Strategic Dialogue, which will help prepare the ground for the next EU-China summit in Brussels in the autumn.

Ashton will meet with Premier Wen Jiabao, Chinese counterpart State Councillor Dai Bingguo and Defence Minister Liang Guanglie.

She and Dai attended the first Strategic Dialogue in September 2010 in the southwestern Chinese province of Guizhou. The second was held in Hungary in May 2011. At the last EU-China summit, which was delayed from October 2011 to February this year because of the European sovereign debt crisis, China renewed its support for the euro.

After Beijing, Ashton will visit Hong Kong on Wednesday, and on Thursday she will attend a regional forum of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

AFP

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