US Secretary of State Rice impressed with quake relief work

2008-06-30 02:36:11 GMT       2008-06-30 10:36:11 (Beijing Time)       China Daily

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (L) looks at a children's book at a reading room of a temporary camp during her visit to quake-hit Dujiangyan, Sichuan province June 29, 2008. [Agencies]

DUJIANGYAN, Sichuan - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is impressed by China's relief work in the areas hit by the May 12 earthquake.

Rice met with quake survivors and toured a relief camp in Dujiangyan, one of the worst hits areas, during her four-hour visit to Sichuan province.

She said the American people had responded with sympathy to the quake victims.

The US government has offered cash and materials worth $2.6 million as quake relief, according to the Foreign Ministry, and Rice is the highest-ranking US official to visit Sichuan after the quake.

"We talk about US-China relations, we talk at the government level, but it is really the relations between the American people and the Chinese people that really make the difference," she said.

"I'm really impressed by the recovery effort. It is really a sign of how the human spirit can overcome great devastation."

She first visited the Dujiangyan Tengda sports club, reduced to rubble by the quake. It was a popular site with local people, and women used to practise dancing there.

The US secretary of state had some light moments too, feeding goldfish in a giant bowl in front of a couple's makeshift home.

Rice watched a Peking Opera performance at a cultural center, and talked with some children, whom she called "my friends".

"It is good to see people are recovering and going on with their lives, and children are studying and performing," she said before leaving Dujiangyan for Chengdu. She took off from the provincial capital of Sichuan for Beijing at 2 pm.

In Beijing, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said he hoped to hold a meeting of the Six-Party Talks' chief negotiators soon.

"It is proper (time) for a meeting of heads of delegations of the Six-Party Talks because the nuclear process has achieved major progress," Yang said at a joint press briefing with Rice.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) submitted a list declaring its nuclear program to China on Thursday. A day later, it demolished the cooling tower of its Yongbyon nuclear facility. The US has welcomed the DPRK move.

Rice praised China's leading role in the Six-Party Talks and the hard work it had done to turn an area of possible conflict into one of cooperation.

She said China and the US have developed constructive relationships despite the differences over issues such as human rights.

Rice will meet President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao today before flying home.

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