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Friday, July 07, 2000, updated at 11:27(GMT+8)

China and Turkmenistan to Jointly Explore Oil

China and Turkmenistan will begin joint oil and natural gas projects late next year or early 2002.

President Saparmurad Atayevich Niyazov of Turkmenistan announced the plans to reporters Thursday after meeting with visiting President Jiang Zemin.

Jiang's two-day visit, the first by the Chinese head of state to that country, is believed to push forward co-operation between central Asian countries and China in development of China's western areas.

During the visit, China expressed willingness to participate in developing and marketing Turkmenistan gas and oil resources.

A joint statement and two agreements on economic co-operation were signed Thursday.

The statement applauded sustainable development in the bilateral relations in the field of politics, economics, culture, and education.

China and Turkmenistan attach importance to the co-operation in the field of energy resources and are determined to research practical ways of building gas and oil export channels from Turkmenistan to China.

The constructive proposal became one of the highlights during President Jiang's visit to Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan is a desert country with huge gas and oil resources. It possesses the world's fifth largest reserves of natural gas and substantial oil fields, and is working hard to open new export channels.

China and Turkmenistan should promote economic co-operation and development in the central Asia region and revive the ancient "Silk Road,'' Jiang said.

The Silk Road, which extended from what is now the city of Xi'an in Northwest China to the Mediterranean Sea, was a major trade route across Eurasia in ancient times. Turkmenistan and some central Asian nations straddle the route.

Total Sino-Turkmenistan trade volume in 1998 reached US$12.5 million. Both leaders agreed the level was far from ideal.

On the issue of establishing a new international order, Jiang put forward four principles:

--Safeguard peace and oppose military forces. China believes conflicts between countries should be resolved by negotiation and consultation instead of by force.

--Mutual respect and equal sovereignty. States, no matter big or small, rich or poor, strong or weak, are equal members of the international community and have the right to participate in international affairs.

--Keep the initiative in one's choice and seek common ground while reserving differences. Each country has the right to choose social systems, values and roads to development in light of its national conditions.

--Mutual-benefit co-operation and joint development. Many international problems rely on co-operation among countries. Common prosperity can only be realized through equal and mutual-beneficial co-operation.

President Saparmurad Atayevich Niyazov of Turkmenistan said that his country shares common views with China on many international issues and supports China's position on multipolarization and globalization.

Both sides agreed to strengthen co-operation to guarantee regional security, control religious extremism and ethnic separatism as well as combat international terrorist activities.

On Friday, Jiang will conclude his two central Asia countries' tour and return to Beijing.

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China and Turkmenistan will begin joint oil and natural gas projects late next year or early 2002.

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