Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) meets journalists together with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau (R) in Ottawa, Canada, Sept. 22, 2016. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)
OTTAWA, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here Thursday that China and Canada have agreed to strengthen their ties in economic, trade and other fields, and to begin exploratory talks for a free trade agreement.
Li, who is on an official visit to the North American nation, made the remarks in a joint press conference with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau.
"We have reached many new consensuses in economic and trade areas," said Li, adding that China is willing to import frozen beef from Canada and the two sides have reached an agreement on Canada's canola exports to China.
Li also said that the two sides discussed cooperation in finance, tourism, law enforcement, as well as between their local governments.
"The exchange of visits within one month showed that China-Canada relations are entering a new stage," said Li who referred to Trudeau's recent official visit to China, adding that "it's rare in the bilateral ties, and conforms to the interests of both countries as well as the expectations of the international community."
Li arrived in Ottawa on Wednesday for a four-day official visit. It is the first visit by a Chinese premier in 13 years.
The Chinese leader said the two sides agreed that they have broad common interests and sound cooperation. The development of the bilateral ties is in the interests of Chinese and Canadian people as well as world peace and stability.
"We have decided to strengthen exchanges at all levels and through multiple mechanisms. We have agreed to establish a high-level financial dialogue mechanism," Li said.
The Chinese leader also noted that they have discussed their differences, saying that it is normal for the two countries with different national conditions and in different stages of development to have differences.
He added that what's more important is to manage their differences, knowing that their common interests far outweigh differences, Li said.
"We are very pleased about the nature and the stability we have been able to bring to the Canada-China relationship," Trudeau told reporters.
Trudeau said the two sides agreed to double bilateral trade volume by 2025 and bilateral economic relations have huge potential to create decent salaries and jobs.
Trudeau added that maintaining stable relations with China is in the interests of both countries and he looks forward to bringing more opportunities for Canadians through relations with China.
Before the joint press conference, the two leaders also attended a signing ceremony for a number of bilateral cooperation documents.
The two countries signed an agreement on the sharing and return of forfeited assets, a joint statement on cooperation in third-party markets, a protocol on exporting frozen beef from Canada to China, an arrangement about cooperation in combating crimes, an arrangement about enhanced tourism cooperation, and others.
Earlier in the day, Trudeau held a welcome ceremony for the Chinese premier, and held talks with Li, which represented the formal launch of an annual dialogue mechanism between the two heads of government established during Trudeau's China trip.
Li said during the talks that China is willing to strengthen mutual political trust and deepen practical cooperation in a bid to forge a "golden decade" for China-Canada ties.
Li called on Canada to loosen up restrictions on the export of high-tech products to China in a bid to tap potential for bilateral economic cooperation.
Trudeau told Li that Canada is willing to strengthen economic and trade ties with China, and hold exploratory talks for a free trade agreement in a constructive manner.
Canada also hopes to expand cooperation and exchanges with China in judicial, cultural and other sectors, said Trudeau, who added that Canada is willing to strengthen coordination and cooperation with China at multilateral venues in a bid to jointly address global challenges.
Li on Thursday also met with Canada's Senate Speaker George Furey, Speaker of the House of Commons Geoff Regan and Governor General David Johnston.
In his meeting with former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Li appreciated Chretien's contributions to China-Canada relations, saying that with joint efforts of the two countries, China-Canada relations will be among the best of relations between China and Western countries again.
Chretien said the two sides should strengthen cooperation in nuclear energy, infrastructure construction, clean energy, finance and other fields.