France backs lifting of China arms embargo

6th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 6 (AFP) - Two days before an EU-China summit at The Hague, France on Monday reiterated its support for an end to a European arms embargo imposed after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.

PARIS, Dec 6 (AFP) - Two days before an EU-China summit at The Hague, France on Monday reiterated its support for an end to a European arms embargo imposed after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.

"Of course we are in favour of a lifting of the embargo. It no longer corresponds to the reality of the Euro-Chinese strategic partnership," said foreign ministry spokeswoman Cecile Pozzo di Borgo.

"Member states of the EU agree on this ... The discussions are focussed on the timetable and modalities for the lifting of the embargo," she said.

While French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder have come out in favour of lifting the boycott, other countries such as Britain and the Netherlands are more cautious.

Last month the European parliament voted to oppose a lifting of the arms embargo unless it is accompanied by a general EU code of conduct on all arms sales as well as improvements in China's human rights record.

The embargo is likely to be high on the agenda at Wednesday's meeting, with China pushing for its early removal.

Monday's Financial Times newspaper reported in the lead story of its European edition that Paris does not want the removal of the embargo to be contingent on an overall code of conduct aimed at giving more transparency to EU arms sales.

"Most countries want tighter controls as a condition of lifting the embargo. But France is an obstacle," an unnamed European diplomat was quoted as saying.

European officials told AFP Monday that the summit would probably result in a positive signal from the EU about an end to the embargo, but not in its immediate removal.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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