French President Nicolas Sarkozy has sought the backing of China's President Hu Jintao for plans to reform the global monetary system during talks in the seaside resort of Nice, a day after the two countries signed a raft of lucrative business deals.
AFP - China's President Hu Jintao held talks on the French Riviera with France's Nicolas Sarkozy Friday on day two of a state visit that has seen the countries sign 20 billion dollars in trade deals.
The two walked to greet Chinese and French onlookers lined up on the seafront in the city of Nice amid tight security, before going into the picturesque Villa Massena museum for the second formal talks of the visit.
Senior French and Chinese officials said Friday's talks would focus on common ground for France's upcoming presidency of the G20 power grouping and other international issues including Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Sarkozy says he wants China's backing for his plans to reform the global financial system when he takes over the G20 presidency at a summit in South Korea next week.
Hu said on Thursday that he supported Sarkozy in his G20 plans, but few concrete details have been announced.
France and China have had tense ties in recent years, notably over French meetings with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, but they maintain important economic ties and relations have warmed since 2009.
With the diplomatic and economic stakes high, Sarkozy ignored complaints from activists about China's human rights record, and has thrown on a warm and lavish welcome for Hu on the three-day visit.
In Paris on Friday morning around 20 activists approached Hu as he visited the Arc de Triomphe to re-light the flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Protesters called for jailed Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo to be freed, but police intervened rapidly to disperse the group who opened up white umbrellas with "Free Liu Xiaobo" printed on them.
Press watchdog Reporters Without Borders said six protestors were arrested.
"The arrests reflect the French government’s determination to suppress any reference to human rights in China in order not to offend President Hu," it alleged, in a statement.
The award of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu enraged Beijing when it was announced last month, and Chinese officials have said his fate is not up for discussion during the French visit.
Human rights group Amnesty International said it was also planning a protest on Saturday morning at an industrial complex near Nice where Hu is scheduled to visit a factory before ending his visit to France.
The Nice talks come a day after the two leaders oversaw the signing of 20 billion dollars' (14 billion euros') worth of aviation and energy contracts between French and Chinese companies.
A new round of 15 contracts was signed Friday in arenas ranging from power to wine, including a 1.1 billion euro deal between telecommunications group Alcatel-Lucent and China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom.
French nuclear giant Areva has also signed a contract to supply 3.5 billion dollars' worth of uranium to Chinese power firm CNGPC.
In remarks calculated to reassure China, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde branded protectionism "the most hideous monster" and called for "a sustained economic relationship founded on friendship and demand."
No joint news conference has been scheduled, an exceptional departure from state visit procedures that has been criticised by campaigners who want Hu to be pressed on the issue of human rights.
Hu heads to Portugal on Saturday.
Date created : 2010-11-05