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Presidents of China, Germany pledge stronger ties, oppose protectionism

BEIJING, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday greeted German President Horst Koehler and proposed stronger bilateral collaboration and joint efforts to tackle global challenges.

Hu gave a red-carpet welcome to Koehler at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing at the start of Koehler's five-day visit to China.

Following an honor guard reception and a 21-gun military salute, Hu and Koehler held hour-long talks covering political affairs, economic cooperation and global challenges.

Koehler paid his first state visit to China in 2007 and attended the Beijing Paralympics in 2008.

"The visit, including your attendance at the Shanghai Expo, reflects the importance you attach to developing ties with China," Hu said.

Together with a big delegation of business executives, Koehler will attend Germany Day at the Shanghai Expo on Wednesday.

"As major countries, China and Germany have wide common interests and both assume important responsibilities. We should work more closely together to benefit the two nations and promote world peace and development," Hu said.

Hu proposed the two countries deepen political trust and ensure steady growth in bilateral ties.

Koehler echoed Hu's proposal, calling for the two countries to properly handle disputes.

On the economic front, Hu and Koehler agreed to tap potential in environmental protection, energy, recycling and to enhance cooperation among small- and medium-sized businesses.

The two presidents also called for more people-to-people exchanges.

On the global economy, Hu encouraged all countries to stick to their stimulus measures and work closely together as the foundation of the economic recovery is still not solid.

"China firmly supports the joint action by the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to rescue Greece," Hu said.

The eurozone countries and the IMF agreed in early May to extend Greece 110 billion Euros (about 147 billion US dollars) to prevent the Greek crisis from spreading to other weak eurozone countries.

"China would like to work more closely with Germany within the G20 framework and boost reform of the global financial system and its institutions," Hu said.

Koehler said Germany hopes to work with China to oppose protectionism in any form, ensure the openness of the global economy and build a new international economic and financial system.

After the talks, Hu and Koehler witnessed the signing of cooperative deals between the two countries.

Koehler is scheduled to meet with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday before flying to Shanghai for the Germany Day at the World Expo.

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