France Rolls out Red Carpet for Hu
Chinese President Hu Jintao (L front) shakes hands with French President Nicolas Sarkozy (R front) in Paris, France, Nov. 4, 2010. Hu Jintao held talks with Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on Thursday. Photo:Xinhua
French President Nicolas Sarkozy greeted his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, at Orly airport, south of Paris, Thursday with a rare reception that analysts considered a change in tone by France, which angered Beijing two years ago for threatening to boycott the Olympic Games.
Military honors were presented, as was the offer of a horseback escort. And the two leaders have scheduled several one-on-one meetings during President Hu's three-day trip.
As France is set to take over the chair of the G20 this month, the leaders are expected to exchange their views on the upcoming G20 summit, and a number of contracts are likely to be signed, diplomats said.
Speaking ahead of his trip, Hu told the Xinhua News Agency that China was ready to expand its trade with France and steadily promote bilateral cooperation in various fields. Hu will visit Portugal following his France trip.
According to a French presidential officer who declined to be named, deals worth billions of euros are expected to be secured in the leaders' first round of bilateral talks in Paris, Reuters reported.
The deals are expected to include China's ordering of Airbus passenger planes, as well as nuclear energy deals for French company Areva, and a contract between French insurer Axa and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the news agency reported.
The value of the deals, according to the anonymous officer, "will be far greater than during any previous visit by European leaders to Beijing or by Chinese leaders abroad."
In a statement Thursday, China Southern Airlines announced that it had agreed to purchase 36 Airbus planes for .78 billion from Airbus SNC, based in Toulouse, France.
Sarkozy signed deals with China worth up to billion on his visit to China in 2007, but bilateral ties soured in 2008 when Sarkozy met with the Dalai Lama, igniting protests and boycott calls of French products in China.
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