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Qatar Ministry of Finance H. E. Youssef Hussein Kamal inaugurated the conference works at Ritz Carlton Doha on Mon 19 of March,2007

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China keen on boosting energy ties with Gulf states

Gulf Times

Wednesday, 21 March, 2007, 09:00 AM Doha Time

Xianghua ... ‘ensure peace’

Staff Reporter

CHINA is committed to improving the mechanism of energy dialogue with the GCC countries and explore new ways and modalities for energy co-operation, the ‘Enriching the Middle East’s Economic Future Conference’ was told yesterday.
“We will work with GCC countries to further facilitate dialogue and exchanges between energy producers and consumers to increase mutual understanding, narrow differences and safeguard the stability and development of the global energy market,” China’s former ambassador to Lebanon, Liu Xianghua said.
Observing that the Gulf region is an important link in the global supply chain, she stated that security and development of the region was closely linked with all Asian countries, which should give more attention to and do more for the region.
“All countries in the Gulf region and Asia at large ought to put in long-term efforts to uphold regional security and resolve hot-spot issues so as to ensure lasting peace and common prosperity,” Xianghua said.
Strengthening regional economic co-operation based on equality and mutual benefit, facilitating dialogue among civilisations and achieving common progress were among the measures suggested by her.
With regard to China’s growing trade with the six GCC countries, the speaker pointed out that in 2006 it totalled $44.9bn, accounting for 70% of the total trade with Arab countries.
China imported 43.24mn tonnes of crude oil from the GCC countries, amounting to 30% of its total crude import.
“The Free Trade Agreement negotiation between China and the GCC has been progressing smoothly and energy dialogue has been kicked off,” Xianghua pointed out.
The official also recalled that the trade exchanges between China and the Gulf countries could be traced back to over 2,000 years.
“The ancient land and maritime silk roads bear witness to the traditional friendship between the Chinese people and those in the Gulf region,” she added.
The moderator, retired US General Wesley Clark, maintained that America was coming to a juncture where it would have to reconsider its policies.
“Regarding Iraq, I would like to see a broader security dialogue in the region involving all of Iraq’s neighbours, including Iran,” he said.
General Clark, who rose to the rank of four-star general as Nato’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, during his 34 years’ service in the US Army, was of the view that longterm US presence in Iraq would be counterproductive.
“But how to get out of Iraq, that has to be decided in consultation with the neighbours,” stated General Clark, a former Democratic candidate for US president.
He also suggested that countries that have more stake in the energy scene in the Gulf should take more burden to resolve the problems in the region.
General Clark is presently a senior fellow at The UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations, which is hosting the conference in association with Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence’s Strategic Studies Centre.

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