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EU, China agree to launch wide-ranging talks

Written by: Staff
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HELSINKI, Sep 9 (Reuters) The European Union and China today said they would launch negotiations for a wide-ranging treaty to cover their soaring trade and investment flows and a host of other issues including human rights.

Brussels and Beijing agreed to partially decouple issues relating to their deep economic ties and to deal with them in a ''relatively independent manner,'' the two sides said in a joint statement after a summit in Finland.

The 25-nation EU bloc and China have long wanted to upgrade the formal agreements that govern their trading relationship but have failed to agree on how to link economic issues to sensitive political questions such as human rights.

China had proposed two separate sets of talks. But the EU insisted all the issues should be discussed as part of one, new deal, known as a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).

today's joint statement said Brussels and Beijing ''underlined the importance of concrete steps in the field of human rights'' on the basis of ''equality and mutual respect''.

China also urged Brussels anew to lift the EU's arms embargo which was imposed after the bloody repression by Chinese authorities of the pro-democracy movement in 1989.

REUTERS SBA BST2057

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