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Friday, November 7, 1997 Published at 11:53 GMT


French arrive for stylish London summit

Talks over the best of British style

Jacques Chirac, the French President, and Lionel Jospin, the Prime Minister, will experience the best in British style when they meet Tony Blair on Friday.

[ image: Sir Terence Conran's design]
Sir Terence Conran's design
The Government is using the meeting to push their "Cool Britannia" vision of Britain as a young stylish nation.

The Government has taken over an unused floor of the Canary Wharf tower in London's Docklands and asked Sir Terence Conran to redesign the interior.

[ image: The Blairs entertain the Clintons at La Pont de la Tour]
The Blairs entertain the Clintons at La Pont de la Tour
Tony Blair has already used the restauranteur to show off his vision of new Britain. When US President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary visited London in May, instead of a formal banquet, Tony Blair and his wife Cherie entertained President and Mrs Clinton at Conran's La Pont de la Tour restaurant near Tower Bridge.

Commonwealth leaders were also treated to Mr Blair's new vision of Britain at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Edinburgh. Heads of State watched dancers, a promotional video, and heard an updated version of the National Anthem.

[ image: Canary Wharf, the tallest office block in Europe]
Canary Wharf, the tallest office block in Europe
Peter Mandelson, the Minister without Portfolio, says it is important that the Government puts forward images of "Cool Britannia".

"The new Britain, as we enter the new Millennium is a modern nation, forward looking, outward going, and it's important therefore that we use occasions like this to show the world that image of Britain."

Although Tony Blair and President Chirac shook hands and embraced warmly when they met at 10 Downing Street, there will be some tough talking at the summit.

Tony Blair has already urged French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin to intervene in the French Truckers dispute, and Downing Street sources say Mr Blair will be raising the issue of unpaid compensation for drivers caught up in last years dispute. "We want the French government to take up those cases, and ensure that the help our drivers are entitled to is given," the source said.

Other topics to be discussed include restructuring the European defence industry, the impasse over weapons checking in Iraq, and various European Union issues.

The single currency will feature highly in those discussions, as will what is described as Britain's "positive position on monetary union."

The French will also announce a new children's garden in Paris to be named in honour of Diana, Princess of Wales.

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