Raffarin heads to China for talks

15th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 14 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin will travel to China next week for an official visit focusing on bilateral economic and cultural ties, his office said Thursday.

PARIS, April 14 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin will travel to China next week for an official visit focusing on bilateral economic and cultural ties, his office said Thursday.

Raffarin, who will travel to the capital Beijing, China's financial hub Shanghai and the northeastern city of Shenyang from April 21 to 24, will meet on April 21 in Beijing with Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao to start his visit.

The meeting was due to conclude with the signing of several cooperation agreements and contracts, but Raffarin's office did not specify the nature of the deals, nor did it release the names of business leaders who will accompany Raffarin.

Junior foreign trade minister Francois Loos made several trips to China ahead of Raffarin's visit, which comes on the heels of French President Jacques Chirac's state visit to China in October 2004.

Also next Thursday, the French prime minister will meet with Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong and open an exhibition about France's King Louis XIV in Beijing's Forbidden City before meeting French expatriates in the capital.

On April 22, Raffarin will go to Shenyang to visit the Imperial Palace there, considered to be a miniature replica of Beijing's Forbidden City. From there, he will travel to Shanghai, returning to Paris late Saturday.

In Shanghai, the French prime minister will meet with Chinese and French business leaders, and will speak with students about the future of Europe.

As part of the celebrations for the Year of France in China, the city's Pearl Tower will be illuminated in blue, white and red - the colors of France's flag. The trip marks Raffarin's second official visit to China. His first, in April 2003, came in the middle of the deadly SARS epidemic.

Raffarin cancelled his trip to Shanghai as a result.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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