Hague says new British govt to build on China ties

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Britain's foreign secretary vowed Wednesday that the new coalition government would strengthen ties with China which have been strained by clashes over human rights, climate change and other issues.

"We hope to continue on the work of the previous Labour government. I think they did some good work in developing relations with China," William Hague told reporters during a one-day stop in Beijing.

Hague, who spoke after meeting his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, singled out trade and economic ties but also cooperation on Afghanistan and international efforts to halt Iran's controversial nuclear drive.

Yang also voiced support for a closer relationship, saying, "We believe that the common interests of the two countries far outweigh the differences."

Neither side offered specifics on future cooperative efforts.

Hague was to meet Premier Wen Jiabao later Wednesday.

New British Prime Minister David Cameron has accepted an offer from China to pay a visit later in the year, officials have said.

Relations under Britain's previous Labour administration soured last year when British climate change secretary Ed Miliband accused China of "hijacking" a summit on global warming in Copenhagen.

London was also furious at China's execution in December of a Briton on drug smuggling charges.

© 2010 AFP

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