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UPDATED: 16:19, July 06, 2004
Chinese premier hails opening of AU summit
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao delivered a congratulatory message to the third summit of the African Union (AU) on Tuesday.

"Since its inception two years ago, the AU has played a significant role in Africa's solidarity and cooperation, regional conflict resolution and economic and social progress," the message said.

It hailed the establishment of a number of important institutions within the AU framework, including the Pan-African Parliament and the Peace and Security Council.

"In addition, the NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development) is also well on track to implementation, taking another solid step towards African integration," it said.

China always attaches importance to Africa and has all along supported peace and development of the continent, the message added.

"Guided by the long-term policy of seeking friendly ties with African countries, the Chinese government will continue to support the AU and NEPAD's implementation, commit itself to China-Africa friendly cooperation in all areas, and work together with the AU

and African nations for a stronger new partnership featuring long-term stability, equality and mutual benefit," it stressed.

The third AU summit opened in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on Tuesday with security issues topping the agenda.

The AU replaced the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 2002, a regional bloc formed to usher the continent out of the colonial era.

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