Macron, Merkel, Juncker and Xi to meet Tuesday in Paris

Brussels (AFP) –


French President Emmanuel Macron will hold trade and climate talks on Tuesday with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The leaders will be joined by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker as they seek "points of convergence between Europe and China", Macron's office said Thursday.

The meeting is part of Xi's European tour, which comes with Europe divided over his "Belt and Road" trade infrastructure project and under US pressure to shun telecom giant Huawei.

As he arrived for an EU summit in Brussels, Macron welcomed what he called Europe's "awakening" to the challenge posed by China, after Brussels published a 10-point plan for a more assertive stance.

But Macron's office struck a more conciliatory tone in announcing Tuesday's talks, saying it was an opportunity to explain Europe's strategy to China.

"We thought it was needed, because to defend multilateralism the discussion must move to the European level and not that of France alone," Macron's office said.

The meet comes ahead of an EU-China summit in Brussels on April 9.

The EU is split on handling China, with some fearing the rise of a global superpower and others, especially in Europe's south, willing to make deals for investment in ports, energy and transport.

On his trip, Xi is expected to secure a non-binding agreement for Italy to join the $1 trillion Belt and Road Initiative, spooking EU partners worried Rome will open its doors to Chinese influence.

EU members Greece and Poland have also embraced the "New Silk Road" but others in the bloc fear it could lead to growing Chinese government sway over politics on the continent.