Oslo wants to sign free trade deal with China

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AFP | October 09 2010

Oslo wants to sign free trade deal with China

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Liu Xiaobo

OSLO: Norway said Friday it wanted to wrap up a free trade agreement with China despite a warning from Beijing jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize would “damage Sino-Norwegian relations.” “We’ve made great progress in the negotiations. If the accord is in the best interest of the two countries, we should concentrate on the goal of completing negotiations,” Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told AFP. “I’d find it surprising if other factors would be a hindrance,” he added. The agreement being negotiated would be the first such arrangement between a European country and the Asian superpower. Norway hopes for the agreement to be signed before the end of the year, but observers have said Friday’s Nobel Peace Prize award to Liu, 54, could harm negotiations. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement that Liu’s Peace Prize would “damage Sino-Norwegian relations” but was not more specific. Stoere said he wanted to “stress the difference there is between an independent Nobel committee and the official Norwegian authorities.”

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source: AFP