Verhagen visiting China, Japan and South Korea

From 22 to 29 October, Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen will undertake a working visit to China, Japan and South Korea.

In China, on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 October, he will accompany Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende to the Asia-Europe Meeting in Beijing. The summit will be attended by 45 European and Asian countries and discussions will cover the financial and economic situation, international and regional developments and cultural dialogue.

On Thursday 23 October Mr Balkenende and Mr Verhagen will hold talks with Chinese president Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao. Relations with the Netherlands, bilateral trade and human rights will be among the items on the agenda. Mr Verhagen will also meet with representatives of the Dutch business community and Chinese human rights defenders.

In Japan Mr Verhagen will meet his counterpart, Hirofumi Nakasone. This year, the Netherlands and Japan are celebrating 150 years of diplomatic relations. In 2009 they will mark 400 years of trade between the two countries.

The Japanese visit will begin on 27 October with the laying of a wreath at the Hodogaya Cemetery, where victims from the Netherlands and the Commonwealth who died during the Second World War are buried. Mr Verhagen will next speak at Aoyama Gakuin University on the role of the Netherlands and Japan in promoting peace and security and defending human rights. After his speech the minister will answer students' questions.

Mr Verhagen will also present the annual Deshima Awards to two Dutch companies in recognition of outstanding achievement in the Japanese market. Deshima is the name of the trading post the Dutch used for centuries, when they were the only Western nation permitted to trade with Japan.

In South Korea, on Tuesday 28 October, Mr Verhagen will visit the demilitarised zone, the area between South and North Korea that is seen as the last Cold War frontier. On Wednesday 29 October he will meet South Korean foreign minister Yu Myung-hwan to discuss bilateral relations, developments in the region and Dutch experience with water management. In Seoul he will also open a Dutch centre to promote higher education and student exchanges.