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HEADLINE: U.S. National Security Advisor Discusses North Korea, Taiwan With Chinese Leaders
INTRO: Warm words about U.S.-China relations marked the start of U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice's trip to Beijing. As VOA's Luis Ramirez reports from the Chinese capital, she is expected to discuss North Korea's nuclear weapons and U.S. arms sales to Taiwan with China's leaders.
TEXT: Condoleezza Rice met with Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, before going to the Zhongnanhai leadership compound for a meeting with the head of China's military commission, former President Jiang Zemin.
Seated in a large hall, the two officials exchanged warm words. Speaking above the noise of cameras, Ms. Rice conveyed greetings from President Bush.
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"U.S.-China relations are in very good shape. The relationship is broadening and deepening, and I look forward to a chance to talk further about our efforts and cooperation in the interest of peace and security."
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Mr. Jiang, who left office last year, remains deeply influential in Chinese politics. Ms. Rice's meetings on Friday will include consultations with President Hu Jintao.
Before the meetings with Ms. Rice, Chinese officials said they would raise the topic of Taiwan. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue told reporters that the issue is central to China's relationship with Washington.
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"Whether or not Sino-U.S. relations can maintain sustainable stability depends, to a large extent, on whether the Taiwan question can be solved properly."
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China has repeatedly called on the United States to stop selling weapons to Taiwan, which China considers a part of its territory.
Speaking in Tokyo earlier Thursday, Ms. Rice said the issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons programs would be on the agenda.
Beijing and Washington have worked together in recent months to persuade North Korea to stop its development of nuclear weapons. China has hosted three rounds of multi-party negotiations over the past year in an effort to resolve the issue, but only modest progress has been made.
China is the second stop on Ms. Rice's Asian tour, which began in Japan on Wednesday and continues with a visit to South Korea on Friday. (SIGNED)
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