Tue, February 10, 2009
China > Mainland

Ex-French PM in Beijing to repair soured ties

2009-02-10 00:26:27 GMT2009-02-10 08:26:27 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin Monday said he hoped France and China would restart dialogue soon.

Beginning his weeklong visit to China, his second in 10 months, to repair soured Sino-French ties, Raffarin said bilateral relations should be put back on the track.

This is very important also because "we share the same standpoint" on how to overcome the global economic crisis, he said.

Raffarin's is the highest level delegation Paris has sent to Beijing since bilateral ties hit a low after French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with the Dalai Lama in December.

"The aim of my visit is to discuss with the Chinese leaders the effects of the global financial crisis," Raffarin told a news briefing. "We hope the two sides revive dialogue and mutual trust soon."

It is "highly possible" that the two countries' presidents would meet on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in London in early April, he said. "I expect them to meet even before the summit."

In April last year, Raffarin arrived in Beijing as Sarkozy's special envoy amid rising anger among Chinese against France after the Olympic torch relay was disrupted in Paris.

Late last year, China pulled out of a high-level meeting with the European Union (EU) after Sarkozy met with the Dalai Lama. And France was not on Premier Wen Jiabao's recent European itinerary.

Raffarin is visiting Beijing to "clear up the mess" created by the French president, the Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post has said.

"Sarkozy understands the present problem and is keen to improve ties", Raffarin told reporters, stressing that such temporary problems would not change the "strategic ties" between China and France.

France has realized "it's more urgent" to improve its ties with China amid the global economic crisis, said Wang Zhaohui, an expert in European studies with the China Institute of Contemporary International Affairs.

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