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President, Premier Postpone Overseas Trips Because of Earthquake

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Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have postponed planned overseas visits because of a strong earthquake in northwestern China that has killed at least 760 people.

Hu postponed visits to Venezuela and Chile after a scheduled summit of Brazil, Russia, India and China slated for Thursday and a state visit to Brazil.

Before arriving in Brazil, Hu took part in the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on April 12-13.

Premier Wen has postponed a scheduled visit to Brunei, Indonesia and Myanmar on April 22-25.

The 7.1-magnitude earthquake that hit China's northwestern Qinghai Province on Wednesday has left at least 760 people dead, 243 missing and 11,477 others injured. About 100,000 people were left homeless.

Hu held separate telephone talks with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, informing them of the situation in China's earthquake-hit region.

The Chinese government has been organizing relief efforts in Qinghai and Hu told Pinera and Chavez he had to postpone visits to their countries in order to return home as soon as possible to participate in the relief work.

China highly values its relations with Chile, Hu told Pinera.

China wishes to work with Chile to deepen political relations between the two countries, strengthen pragmatic cooperation and open a new phase of China-Chile all-round relations of cooperation and partnership, he added.

President Hu also said that China attaches great importance to relations with Venezuela and hopes to enhance pragmatic cooperation in various fields and promote the relations of strategic partnership between the two countries to a new high.

Pinera said he fully understands and supports Hu's decision to return home earlier, and expressed condolences and sympathy for the heavy casualties on behalf of his government and people.

He also hailed China's aid to Chile after his country was struck by a devastating 8.8-magnitude earthquake on Feb. 27.

Pinera said Chile would endeavor with China to promote cooperation in various fields, and steadily boost Chile-China relations.

Chavez said he fully understands Hu's decision to postpone his visit to Venezuela, and sent his condolences and sympathy to the victims in Qinghai Province. He said Venezuela would like to offer all assistance to quake-torn areas.

Chavez said Venezuela attaches importance to its relations with China, and hopes to further strengthen the long-term friendship and boost the pragmatic cooperation in all aspects.

Brazil, Russia and India -- the other three sides attending the BRIC summit -- also sent condolences to the quake-hit zones in Qinghai province. The BRIC nations decided to hold the meeting earlier and compressed the schedule.

Hu also cut short his state visit to Brazil after consulting with the Brazilian side.

(Xinhua News Agency April 16, 2010)