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Last Updated: Monday, 26 November 2007, 11:36 GMT
Sarkozy wins China 20bn euro deal
Nicolas Sarkozy and Hu Jintao
Mr Sarkozy urged Mr Hu to strengthen China's currency
French industrialists visiting China with President Nicolas Sarkozy say they have finalised trade deals worth almost 20bn euros ($30bn; 14.5bn).

These include a delivery of 160 Airbus passenger planes to the value of about 10bn euros.

And state-owned French energy firm Areva said it had signed a contract to build two nuclear reactors in China.

The announcements came as Mr Sarkozy held a second meeting with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao.

"The total amount of these contracts has never been matched before," he told the Chinese president as they met in Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

China growth

The reactors will be built in six years' time in the south of the country and will start generating power in 2014.

They will be operated by a new company set up by Areva and its Chinese partner, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp, until 2026.

The BBC's James Reynolds in Beijing says China is increasingly looking to nuclear energy to meet its growing demand for power and France is keen to make sure that it is involved in this process.

In addition, China is also expected to become the world's second biggest aircraft market after the US with strong growth in its domestic routes over the next few years.

The Airbus deal to supply 110 of the firm's single aisle A320 jet and 50 of the slightly bigger A330 plane will be welcome news to the European planemaker, which has struggled in the face of delays to new models and the weakening dollar.

Human rights

Following the signing of these deals, President Sarkozy will carry on with his official visit, his first to Asia since his election in May.

Mr Sarkozy is set to hold further talks in Beijing and will then travel to Shanghai to meet Chinese business leaders.

According to some critics, the French President should be doing more during the trip to pressure China over its human rights record and use of the death penalty.

The BBC's world affairs correspondent Jill McGivering said that "although Mr Sarkozy is travelling with seven ministers, for example, the French human rights minister is not one of them".

And she added that there has been little evidence that Mr Sarkozy had raised other difficult issues such as Tibet and China's relationship with Iran.

Some observers are calling on China to take a harder line with Iran over its nuclear programme. Mr Sarkozy has warned that it would be unacceptable if Tehran acquired nuclear weapons.

However, the President's office countered that despite the commercial focus of the trip, Mr Sarkozy had used a state dinner to urge China to employ the death penalty less frequently.

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