PARIS, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in Paris Thursday for a state visit to France, aimed at promoting long-term and stable development of comprehensive strategic partnership between China and France.
Later in the day, President Hu is expected to hold talks with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy on bilateral ties and major world and regional issues of common concern, Chinese officials said.
"In the face of complicated and profound changes in the international situation, Hu and his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy, would discuss how to work together to highlight the strategic nature and the overall importance of the partnership between the two countries," said Kong Quan, Chinese Ambassador to France, in an interview with Chinese reporters last Monday.
"The two sides will also explore and decide ways of bilateral cooperation which lays stress on the spirit of times and creativity," he added.
The ambassador said that the two countries will sign a number of cooperation deals during Hu's visit.
Since China and France set up diplomatic ties 46 years ago, bilateral relationship has played a leading role in relations between Western countries and China because of its pioneering nature and strategic significance.
France is China's important trading partner in the European Union. The two-way trade was registered at 38 billion U.S. dollars in 2008.
Although bilateral trade fell to 34.4 billion dollars in 2009 due to the international financial crisis, it has increased significantly since the beginning of this year. In the first nine months, the trade volume was recorded at 33 billion dollars.
Hu paid his first state visit to the European nation in January 2004, during which Hu and French leaders agreed on lifting bilateral ties to the the level of comprehensive strategic partnership.
Hu met Sarkozy in Beijing in April this year when the French leader was on his second state visit to China. The two leaders had "candid, friendly and productive" talks on deepening the China-French comprehensive strategic partnership, and reached "many important agreements."
"China is satisfied with the overall development of bilateral relations, but we believe that our ties should reflect the change of the times," said Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying last week at a press briefing.
She said China hopes that through dialogue between Hu and Sarkozy, the two countries would increase mutual understanding and trust and promote a partnership of equality and mutual respect between the two big powers.
China and France have conducted fruitful cooperation in civilian nuclear energy and aviation, and the two sides are discussing how to broaden cooperation in these fields, said the vice minister.
As France will take over the chair of the Group of Twenty (G20) in mid-November, Fu said, the two leaders will exchange views on the upcoming Seoul summit and the future development of the G20 mechanism.
Hu will also pay a state visit to Portugal following his France trip.