BEIJING, Apr 21 (AP): Top diplomats from China and the European Union pledged to work together on issues including Syria and North Korea and cooperate more closely to advance free trade, striking a contrast with American economic nationalism being promoted by President Donald Trump.
The statements came as China and the EU held their first high-level talks since Trump took office in January. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini co-chaired the Seventh EU-China Strategic Dialogue with State Councilor Yang Jiechi, China's highest-ranking diplomat.
"At present, the international situation is complex with many new developments, challenges and problems," Yang told Mogherini at the outset.
"Against this backdrop, for China and the EU to deepen cooperation and coordinate positions not only concerns the common interests of the two sides, but also is of great significance" for international relations, he added.
Mogherini said China and the EU had "a big responsibility" during "times of uncertainty."
"We are looking forward to intensifying our cooperation on a positive agenda, what the EU and China can do together for the benefit not only of our citizens, but also of the world," Mogherini said.
The two sides discussed rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula as North Korea moves to accelerate its nuclear weapons development, and the war in Syria.
Mogherini told reporters afterward that ending the war in Syria is a priority, and she and Yang discussed at length how to actively support the U.N.-led process while working to improve the humanitarian access into the country.
The one-day talks come ahead of an EU-China summit scheduled for Brussels in June.
On Tuesday, Mogherini met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who said that the international community was looking at how China and the EU would work together to tackle challenges including the world economic recovery, global conflicts and terrorism, and Britain's pending withdrawal from the EU.
Li said he was optimistic about the outcome of the talks based on "a stable China-EU relationship, with the consistency of our two sides toward multilateralism and free trade, and with our joint commitment to improving the international governance structure."
Unlike Trump, who was elected promising to tear up trade deals, impose new tariffs and bring jobs back to America, Chinese President Xi Jinping has cast his country as a champion of free trade and stability, and spoken out against protectionism.
Mogherini said that such speeches by Xi "have raised high expectations that China and the European Union can work together on multilateralism, on rules-based global order" and trade.