BEIJING, Feb. 7 -- China on Friday expressed readiness to work with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) for the establishment of a China-CELAC forum before the end of this year.
"China will maintain contacts with the CELAC on the mechanism and cooperative areas, and work for the formal establishment of the forum and the first ministerial meeting within this year," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily press briefing.
The CELAC approved a special statement to extend support for the establishment of a China-CELAC forum at the organization's second summit in late January, seeking to hold the forum's first meeting within 2014.
"China and the CELAC are committed to building the forum, in order to set up an important platform for the development of a China-Latin America comprehensive cooperative partnership featuring equality, mutual benefit and common development," Hong said.
He noted that Chinese President Xi Jinping had already lauded the CELAC's approval of the special statement.
It showed Latin American and Caribbean countries had common aspirations for deepening overall Latin America-China cooperation, according to the spokesman.
The CELAC, established in December 2011, comprises the 33 countries of the western hemisphere with the exception of the United States and Canada. Cuba took the bloc's rotating presidency in January 2013.
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