German Chancellor Angela Merkel left Berlin on Sunday for a six-day trip to China and Japan that is designed to underscore her commitment to the fight against global warming.
As well as delivering a keynote speech in Japan marking the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Kyoto protocol on climate change, Merkel is also likely to use her talks in Beijing to press China to do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
With this in mind, Merkel is likely to continue the talks launched at the June G8 summit in the German coastal resort of Heiligendamm when the gathering was unable to convince China and other key emerging economies to join efforts to cut carbon emissions.
In addition to deepening relations with China, Merkel wants to pursue closer cooperation on the environment, particularly through the promotion of energy efficiency, green technology and innovation.
Officials in Berlin say Merkel will not shy away from difficult areas such as human rights and press freedom, which she is likely to raise as part of the run-up to Beijing hosting the 2008 Olympic Games.
The chancellor said in her weekly podcast on Saturday that relations between the world's two biggest exporters were so good that it would not be a problem for her to raise vexatious issues.
The chancellor's talks in both nations are likely to touch on the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran as well as the conflict in Afghanistan.
As well as holding talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Merkel is expected to meet cultural and civil rights groups in China and is to visit the German-Chinese Law Institute at the University of Nanjing.
With Japan to take over the G8 presidency from Germany in 2008, Merkel's visit to Tokyo will also form part of the buildup to this. During her stay in the Japanese capital she is due to meet with both Emperor Akihito and the country's prime minister, Shinzo Abe.
It will be Merkel's second visit to China as chancellor and her first to Japan. She arrives in Tokyo on Wednesday and also plans to attend the World Athletics Championships taking place in Osaka.
Last Mod: 26 Ağustos 2007, 17:18