Thu, May 22, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Hu prepares for trip to Russia, France, plans to meet chiefs

AFP AND REUTERS , BEIJING

Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) will hold bilateral meetings with US counterpart President George W. Bush and French President Jacques Chirac on the sidelines of the G8 meeting in France, a top Chinese official said yesterday.

"We will put in place such a meeting [with Bush] because both sides attach importance to it," Vice Foreign Minister Liu Guchang (劉古昌) said at a briefing ahead of Hu's first overseas trip since becoming president.

The two sides still had to finalize details on the bilateral meeting, set to take place as leaders of the G8 industrialized nations gather in Evian, France, in early June, he said.

Hu and Bush would discuss "bilateral relations and major regional and international issues," Liu said, but declined to be more specific.

However, he said the North Korean nuclear issue was likely to figure high during Hu's overseas trip, which will also take him to Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

"It's unavoidable that this issue will be discussed in bilateral meetings and talks," he said.

Bilateral talks with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who is among the participants at the G8 summit and will be in Russia at the same time as Hu, were also being arranged, he said.

Hu is scheduled to leave China for Moscow on May 26 for talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin before taking part in a regional summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

He is then scheduled to visit Evian for an informal dialogue meeting on June 1 between leaders of the G8 and several developing nations, including China.

Given the situation with the contagion seeping its way into certain sectors of the population, Hu is meeting no one he doesn't have to, and undergoing chest X-rays, blood tests, injections and temperature tests, ahead of his first trip outside SARS-stricken China as president, Liu said at the press conference.

Hu and everybody else making the trip to Russia, France, Kazakhstan and Mongolia had undergone thorough checks to determine if they had been in contact with confirmed or suspected SARS victims in the past two weeks; until they depart they will be under strict isolation and are to receive five injections, each costing 1,000 renminbi (US$120), to boost their immune systems, Liu said.

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