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Govt urges France to mend ties
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The government yesterday urged France to take responsibility and effective measures to mend strained ties stemming from French President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama on Saturday.

"The responsibility to repair the dampened Sino-French relations lies with France, not China. We demand and hope that the French side takes concrete steps to correct its mistake," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said yesterday.

"France needs to fully grasp the damage done, not only to the Sino-French ties, but also to our relationship with the European Union (EU) due to Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama," he said.

The meeting may have a negative impact on bilateral cooperation, even in the economic and trade fronts, Liu warned just a day after Sarkozy insisted he did not regret meeting the Dalai Lama.

Sarkozy, who holds the rotating six-month EU presidency, met the Dalai Lama on the weekend in Poland despite strong protests from China.

That makes him the only European leader to meet the Dalai Lama while holding the EU's rotating presidency.

In protest of the announced meeting between Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama, Beijing last month called off the 11th China-EU Summit, scheduled for this month in France.

About 150 Chinese businessmen were expected to meet with their European counterparts on the sidelines of the summit.

The Sarkozy-Dalai meeting has tainted France's image among the Chinese, with netizens calling for a new round of boycotts of French products and companies.

French business leaders have said they are worried about negative trade implications owing to the dampened ties with China.

Calling Sarkozy's move "unwise", Wu Jianmin, former Chinese ambassador to France, said on the China Radio International website yesterday: "Sarkozy didn't think about the interests of the EU and its people. His meeting with the Dalai Lama has defied the principle of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity."

The meeting has harmed the foundation of the bilateral relationship between China and France, Wu said.

Sarkozy is using the meeting to help divert people's attention from domestic and international issues confronting France now, Liu Jian, associate researcher with the EU studies department of China Institute of International Studies, said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 10, 2008)

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