French president, first lady visit Great Wall on second day of China visit
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France's presidential couple visited the Great Wall on Thursday on the second day of a state visit to China designed to boost ties between the two countries after recent spats over Tibet.
AFP - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy visited the Great Wall and the imperial Ming Tombs on Thursday, taking a tourism break on the second day of his state visit to China.
France's first couple toured the tombs and walked along a section of the ancient wall, which dates back to the Qin dynasty (221-206 BC), French officials said.
Sarkozy resumed the official part of his visit later in the day when he met China's top legislator Wu Bangguo, officially the second highest-ranking official in the ruling Communist hierarchy.
"China is a strategic partner for France. It is not a power of tomorrow, it is a power of today," Sarkozy told Wu.
On Wednesday, the French leader and Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged to draw a line under past tensions over Tibet and focus on future cooperation on a range of issues, from global monetary reform to the Iranian nuclear standoff.
"President Sarkozy's visit to China has opened a new page in Sino-French relations," Hu said in a joint media appearance with the French leader after their closed-door talks.
Sarkozy is seeking Beijing's support for a new round of UN sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear programme, which Israel and the West suspect is a cover for a weapons drive. Tehran says its atomic programme is peaceful.
The French leader and Hu also said they would work together on ways to overhaul the global financial system, as Paris prepares to assume the rotating leadership of the G20 from November.
China -- which has sought greater say for developing countries in global financial affairs -- was recently granted increased voting rights in the World Bank, becoming the institution's third biggest member behind the US and Japan.
Sarkozy was to meet with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and visit Beijing's Forbidden City on Friday before heading to Shanghai for the opening of the World Expo.
Tourism has featured prominently in Sarkozy's second state visit to China, which began on Wednesday in the ancient capital of Xian, where France's first couple visited the city's 2,200-year-old terracotta warriors.