The 9th China-EU summit was held on Saturday in Helsinki, and leaders from both sides vowed to deepen the compressive strategic partnership between China and the European Union (EU).
The yearly summit, attended by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen whose country is holding the EU presidency, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, decided to launch the talks on the new partnership agreement.
"In order to reflect the full breadth and depth of today's comprehensive strategic partnership between the EU and China the two sides agreed to launch negotiations on a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement ...," said the joint statement issued after the summit.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said early signing of the agreement is helpful to push forward the comprehensive cooperation in various fields like politics, economy, science and technology, culture, education and security.
Wen also said that both sides also agree to strengthen the political strategic dialogue between China and the EU, enhance the substantial cooperation in trade, sustainable development, environment protection, social security and finance services, and make more coordination in the international affairs.
According to Chinese officials, EU leaders believed that what's to do next is to expand the scope for bilateral cooperation, increase the in-depth cooperation and lift the cooperation up to a higher level.
Speaking at the press conference after the summit, Wen Jiabao called on the European side to make correct political resolution independently for lifting arms ban against China and granting China full market economy status.
Wen said such a move, which was made by "proceeding from strategic and long-term point of view," could wipe out barriers amidst the growth of Sino-European ties.
The lifting of arms ban and the granting the full market economy status to China "comply with Europe's own interests," he
said, adding that "the earlier the problems be resolved, the more benefits it could bring."
In a joint statement issued after the summit, it said leaders between the two sides discussed the EU arms embargo.
"The EU side recognized the importance of this issue and confirmed its willingness to carry forward work towards lifting the embargo on the basis of the Joint Statement of the 2004 EU- China Summit and subsequent European Council Conclusions," the document said.
The EU and Chinese leaders also talked on a wide range of international hot issues like Iranian nuclear issue, the Korean peninsular nuclear issue and Darfur.
At the press conference, Wen urged the international community to continue diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.
Wen said the Iranian nuclear issue entered into a crucial stage, and more concerted diplomatic efforts should be made by the international community.
Wen said sanctions or pressure would not be helpful to resolving this issue, adding that the international community and various parties should be cautious on imposing sanctions against Iran.
China adheres to the principle of non-proliferation and it opposes to proliferation of nuclear weapons, said the Chinese premier.
China hopes that Iran would not develop nuclear weapons, said Wen, adding that China also hopes that the Middle East situation would not be deteriorated.
The premier expressed his appreciation for the EU's diplomatic efforts on resolving the issue, noting that EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana was in Vienna for talks on the issue.
In the meantime, Wen also urged Iran to respond to the concerns of the international community and take constructive measures, so as to facilitate the resolving of the issue.
As for China, Wen said it will join hands with the international community, especially with other parties within the six-state mechanism, to explore a peaceful solution to the issue.
On Saturday, Solana held talks with Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani in Vienna, Austria, aiming to crack the deadlock of the Iran nuclear issue.
As for concrete cultural cooperation between the EU and China, the summit announced a five-year scheme to encourage students from EU countries to learn Chinese.
As from 2007, the Chinese government will provide 100 scholarships per year for EU young students, said the joint statement released by the summit.
The move was welcome by Barroso, who hailed the project as a " concrete cooperation."