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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 April, 2005, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
Paris urges end to China arms ban
Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao (left) and his French counterpart Jean-Pierre Raffarin in Beijing
Raffarin (right) described the embargo as "unfair"
French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has said Paris will continue to push for the lifting of the European Union's arms embargo on China.

Mr Raffarin was speaking at the start of a three-day visit to China.

He also said France had no objection to China's anti-secession law, authorising the use of force against Taiwan should it move to declare independence.

Some EU states have recently voiced concern on the issue after China passed the controversial law in March.

Mr Raffarin - together with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao - also attended a ceremony where Chinese airline companies signed orders worth about $3.2bn (1.7bn) for 30 European Airbus aircraft.

'Outdated'

Mr Raffarin said he saw no reason for the EU to delay lifting the arms embargo imposed against China after Beijing's crackdown on pro-democracy rallies in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

He described the ban as "unfair, outdated and discriminatory".

"To this day, there is no reason for the European Council to modify its decision to lift the arms embargo," Mr Raffarin told reporters.

"I don't see what could lead the European Council to change its position on this matter."

In December, EU leaders authorised the government of Luxembourg - which currently holds the bloc's rotating presidency - to finalise terms for lifting the embargo by June.

But the passing of the anti-secession law, as well as a growing row between China and Japan over Tokyo's approval of controversial history textbooks, have forced several EU states to rethink their position on the embargo issue.

The United States has argued that lifting the embargo would upset the balance of power in the region.




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