President Jiang Zemin has expressed confidence 'substantial progress' can be achieved during the forthcoming visit by US counterpart Bill Clinton. Diplomatic sources said Mr Jiang hoped foreign-policy success would consolidate his position as the 'core' of the Communist Party leadership. The President is overseeing a special interdepartmental group which is in charge of preparations for Mr Clinton's June visit. The sources said some of the experts helping premier Zhu Rongji during his trips to London and Paris had gone back to the special group. They said that in internal meetings, Mr Jiang had expressed optimism headway would be made in areas including Taiwan, China's accession to the World Trade Organisation, and the resumption of hi-tech US exports to China. The President's aides had indicated they hoped Mr Clinton, at least in private, would pledge to put pressure on Taipei to enter negotiations with China. The President's aides did not want Mr Jiang to be 'upstaged' by the diplomatic success scored by Mr Zhu in Europe during the past week, the sources said. Mr Jiang has planned trips to a number of countries, including Japan and Russia, this year to boost his status as an international statesman. While Mr Zhu was in Europe, the domestic media still gave top billing to speeches and functions associated with the President. Meanwhile, Mr Jiang has tried to strengthen his grip on the party and Government by promoting the standing of protege and Vice-Premier Wu Bangguo, a former party chief of Shanghai. Diplomatic sources said in a recent internal meeting the President had urged Mr Zhu to 'let comrade Bangguo handle more challenging tasks'. 'Comrade Bangguo is capable and very hardworking,' Mr Jiang reportedly said. It is understood Mr Jiang hopes Mr Wu will be promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee in a few years and succeed Mr Zhu as head of government in 2003.