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France hopes to ease strains in relations with China
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France hopes to ease tensions in Sino-French ties and work with China to meet the challenge of the global financial crisis, said former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin Monday.

"We should realize how serious is the cancellation of the 11th EU-China Summit concerning the current financial crisis," Raffarin told a symposium marking the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.

He said rather than underestimating the importance of this event, France had given full attention to the problem.

Raffarin arrived Sunday for a one-week visit.

"Premier Wen's European visit didn't include France, and the French government paid great attention to China's signals," he said,noting that he would meet Wen Jiabao on Tuesday.

Raffarin said France fully understood China's concern over stability and reunification.

"We should develop our relationship through mutual respect, rather than criticizing each other," he said.

Raffarin said France hoped to play a certain role in promoting EU-China relations and consolidate its core status in EU-China cooperation.

Noting that the foundation of bilateral ties remained unchanged, he said France didn't want to see misunderstanding overtake achievement, and he believed that China and France, given their common interests, would definitely overcome the difficulties.

In an address to the symposium, former State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan said the two countries should view and handle their relationship from a strategic and long-term perspective.

He said they should observe the fundamental principles of mutual respect, non-interference in each other's internal affairs and respect and consideration for the core interests and concerns of each other, in particular sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"I hope France can attach great importance to the core concerns of China, taking concrete and effective actions and creating conditions for the resumption of normal China-France ties," he said.

After French President Nicolas Sarkozy held a private meeting with the Dalai Lama last year in Poland, China postponed the 11th China-EU Summit and lodged a strong protest against the meeting, saying it "severely undermined China's core interests."

(Xinhua News Agency February 9, 2009)

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