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French President Sarkozy kicks off China visit
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Beijing Sunday afternoon for his first state visit to China since taking office in May, emphasizing close bilateral links.

"Our two countries enjoy very close political ties and energetic economic links," the French president told a business forum on Sunday evening.

He expressed confidence about future bilateral cooperation in politics, economy, technology and other fields.

He said that he appreciated China's constructive role in international affairs, especially its positive contribution to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and the Darfur issue.

The 52-year-old Sarkozy encouraged more French companies to invest in China and explore win-win cooperation with their Chinese counterparts.

Sarkozy's arrival in Beijing was preceded by a brief trip to the former imperial capital of Xi'an in northwest China to visit the Terra Cotta (Qin Dynasty) Museum, a world-renowned site. He mixed with local residents and was escorted into the trenches to view the clay soldiers.

In the afternoon, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the Beijing Capital International Airport warmly welcomed Sarkozy, who was accompanied by a 200-member delegation of government officials, entrepreneurs and journalists.

During his stay in China, Chinese President Hu Jintao will hold talks with Sarkozy. China's top legislator Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao will also meet with him.

Sarkozy also is scheduled to deliver a speech at Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University and view Beijing's preparations for the 2008 Olympics.

Sarkozy's three-day trip will also take him into the economic powerhouse of Shanghai, where he is scheduled to meet with French entrepreneurs who are doing business there.

Prior to his departure from Paris, Sarkozy told Xinhua that he would like to work with Chinese President Hu Jintao on many topics of mutual concern such as the environment, economic affairs and trade relations.

He said that he also wanted to discuss how France and China could make bigger contributions to global security.

Sarkozy said China was the first Asian country he has visited since becoming president. He reiterated France's support for the one-China policy.

Sarkozy said he attached importance to stronger China-France economic and trade ties, saying that mutual benefit and cooperation should be the core of the ties.

He said one important task was to encourage enterprises of all sizes from both countries to work together.

Sarkozy's trip comes days before high-level talks between China and European Union monetary officials and a China-EU summit that is scheduled for Wednesday in Beijing.

(Xinhua News Agency November 26, 2007)

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