2008-07-10 02:15:09 GMT 2008-07-10 10:15:09 (Beijing Time) China Daily
TOYAKO, Japan: President Hu Jintao Wednesday welcomed French President Nicolas Sarkozy's decision to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, saying that the two countries should "turn the page" on difficulties faced by the two sides in the past few months.
"Not long ago, some undeserved difficulties arose in Sino-French relations, which neither side wanted to see," Hu told Sarkozy on the sidelines of the Group of Right (G8) meetings in Japan.
The problem does not lie with the Chinese side, Hu said.
"I hope both sides can work together to turn the page and see Sino-French relations from a strategic and long-term perspective," he said.
Hu also acknowledged the efforts France has taken to mend ties and thanked Sarkozy for French support in the devastating May 12 quake in Sichuan.
Sarkozy told Hu he would attend the opening of the summer Games in his capacity as French leader and rotating president of the European Union. The Beijing Olympics is a great event that "nobody is entitled to jeopardize", Sarkozy said.
Sakorzy also said that France will "never waver" in its adherence to the one-China policy.
The meeting Wednesday was a turnaround from a recent diplomatic nadir sparked by the chaos during the Paris leg of the Olympic torch relay, as well as Sarkozy's subsequent threat to boycott the Olympics.
Chinese public opinion was divided on the French president's change of attitude toward the Olympics.
An online survey conducted by current affairs tabloid Global Times Wednesday showed that a majority of the respondents "did not forgive" Sarkozy's previous remarks, while the websites of Guangming Daily and several other newspapers ran an article welcoming the French leader.
"It is a good thing, that President Sarkozy eventually decided to come for the opening of the Beijing Olympics. It proves that Sarkozy is looking to friendly relations with China," the article said.
A lingering question held by many remained on whether Sarkozy would meet the Dalai Lama, who is expected to visit Paris in August. The French president's position remains unclear.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Chinese ambassador to France Kong Quan said China "resolutely opposes" meetings between foreign leaders and the Dalai Lama "in any way".