Chirac insists EU lift China arms ban by June

23rd March 2005, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, March 23 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac said Wednesday he still expects an agreement to lift an EU arms ban on China by the end of June, despite growing signs it could be delayed.

BRUSSELS, March 23 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac said Wednesday he still expects an agreement to lift an EU arms ban on China by the end of June, despite growing signs it could be delayed.

He recalled that a European Union (EU) summit in December had agreed to aim to end the 15-year-old embargo under the Luxembourg EU presidency, which runs until June 31.

EU leaders had agreed that "the current presidency must assure the lifting of the embargo on China ... Nothing leads me to believe that there will be a change on this subject," he said at the end of two-day EU summit here.

The EU arms ban was slapped on China after the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy students in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, but France has led a group of EU countries arguing that it is outdated and should be lifted.

Chirac's remarks came amid growing signs that the 25-member EU may delay the decision notably amid "complications" triggered by China's new anti-secession law targeting Taiwan.

EU foreign policy head Javier Solana declined to forecast if the EU could meet its target of lifting the embargo by June, saying: "It is too early to say whether we will be able to finish on time or not."

The United States opposes removing the arms ban, with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warning in Beijing Monday that doing so would send the wrong signal at a time of increased tensions.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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