|Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with visiting Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, April 11, 2014. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)|
BEIJING, April 11-- Chinese President Xi Jinping met with visiting Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott Friday afternoon at the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing.
Xi expressed gratitude for Australia's search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, adding that China will continue searching for the flight and stay in close communication with the Australian side.
Abbott also expressed gratitude for the immediate assistance that China provided for Australia when the search for MH370 shifted from the northern corridor to the southern corridor in Australia.
"China was the very first country to provide ships for the search, and we've been very grateful for the help," he said.
At a luncheon in Shanghai today, Abbott said he was confident that the signals picked up in the search were from the black box of the missing plane.
The plane disappeared on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. The flight recorder could help solve the mystery of why the plane veered so far off course. The battery of the black box usually lasts for only a month and is expected to die very soon.
During the meeting, Xi said Abbott's leadership of such a delegation to China showed the great importance and sincerity that the Australian side has attached to developing bilateral ties.
Both important countries in the Asia-Pacific Region, China and Australia share broad and important common interests and have huge potential for cooperation, said Xi.
He said China is willing to work with Australia to push forward their strategic partnership and maintain close high-level exchanges and multi-level dialogues so as to increase political mutual trust.
The president called on the two sides to speed up negotiations on a bilateral free trade deal, and hoped that Australia could offer good conditions for investment by Chinese enterprises in Australia.
The two sides should boost exchanges and cooperation in the areas of military, combating transnational crime, and culture, and strengthen coordination and cooperation, he said. He also called for joint efforts in coping with global challenges, such as climate change and cyber security.
Noting that China and Australia will host the summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Beijing and the G20 Leaders Summit this year, respectively, Xi said the two sides should support each other in order to ensure positive results from the two meetings.
Abbott said that China's development is an opportunity for Australia, the region and the world, and Australia is willing to be China's reliable partner in long-term cooperation.
Abbott said he made the China visit a priority for his Northeast Asia visit, which aims to enhance bilateral strategic partnership and safeguard peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
Australia is ready to work with China to accelerate talks for a free trade deal and welcomes Chinese enterprises to invest in Australia, he said.
He said he hopes the two countries will beef up cooperation in the areas of finance, education, science and technology, culture and tourism, and jointly promote people-to-people exchanges.
He welcomed Xi to attend the G20 Leaders Summit and visit Australia. He also expects to participate in the APEC summit in Beijing in November.
Before arriving in Beijing, Abbott attended the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2014 in south China's Hainan province and visited China's financial hub of Shanghai.