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China, France Sign Deals Worth 3 Bn Euros

China and France reached a three-billion-euro (US$3.9 billion) deal Thursday morning during French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's three-day official visit to Beijing.

Raffarin and Premier Wen Jiabao witnessed the signing ceremony of the 20 cooperative agreements dealing with aviation, nuclear energy and agriculture.

The deals include China's promise to purchase five Airbus A380 and 25 A320 planes and a 100-million-euro (US$130.3 million) deal to buy a powerful communications and live radio and TV broadcast satellite from Alcatel Space.

Prior to the signing ceremony, Wen and Raffarin agreed during an hour-long meeting to further political and economic ties.

"China appreciates France's understanding and support to China on the Taiwan issue and the EU's lifting of the arms embargo," Wen told his counterpart.

Wen suggested the two countries further their relationship by focusing on maintaining high-level visits and improving consultation and cooperation in the United Nations and other international organizations; expanding economic and trade in the energy, transportation, aviation, agriculture and environmental protection sectors; maintaining cultural exchanges and improving judicial cooperation.

China and France are both permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Raffarin noted that the leaders of France and China now are now in continuous and regular contact. Such contacts were sporadic in the past.

President Hu Jintao and French President Jacques Chirac exchanged visits in 2004 and Wen is scheduled to visit France later this year.

Raffarin said that France is very optimistic about bilateral economic and trade relations and ready to expand cooperation with China in trade, energy, medium-size and small enterprises, culture and education.

Raffarin arrived in the Chinese capital Thursday morning. He also met Vice President Zeng Qinghong on Thursday.

During his China tour, Raffarin will also visit Shenyang, the capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, where he is scheduled to attend a symposium on economic and trade cooperation between the three northeast provinces and France.

Also on his itinerary is China's economic hub of Shanghai, where he will deliver three speeches to local business leaders and college students and attend an illumination ceremony at the city's landmark Oriental Pearl TV Tower.

As part of the ongoing celebrations for the Year of France in China, the tower will be illuminated in blue, white and red, the colors of the French national flag.

Raffarin is scheduled to leave China on Saturday. He last visited in 2003.

(Xinhua News Agency April 22, 2005)

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