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Last Updated: Monday, 26 January, 2004, 16:34 GMT
Paris seeks to end China arms ban
Tiananmen Square protester faces tanks, June 1989
The ban dates from the Tiananmen Square massacre
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin has renewed French calls to end the EU's China arms trade ban.

His comments, as China's President Hu Jintao arrived in Paris, echo comments reportedly made by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in China last month.

Mr De Villepin said the ban, imposed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, should be lifted by March.

But a number of EU states want the ban to stay, believing China has not yet done enough on human rights.

But Mr De Villepin said China was an important EU partner.

'Privileged partner'

"Our feeling is that this embargo stems from a (view) of European Union-China relations which is outdated. China is today a privileged partner of the EU and has a major and responsible position in the international system," he said.

Dominique de Villepin
Villepin wants action by March
He said the ban should be lifted when EU leaders gather for their next summit at the end of March.

Mr Schroeder's call last month prompted a statement from a European Commission spokeswoman that the Chinese would need to demonstrate "very clearly" the progress made on human rights before a lifting of the ban could be considered.

EU leaders agreed in December to review the ban.

One move thought possible is for the embargo to be lifted as a political gesture, but for tight controls to remain on selling equipment that could be used against the Chinese population.

State visit

President Hu was greeted in Paris by his French counterpart, Jacques Chirac, before the two men held talks at the Elysee Palace.

The Eiffel Tower was bathed in red light to mark the state visit, which the leaders hope will boost trade.

Mr Hu is being given the rare honour of addressing the French parliament on Tuesday, although some French MPs say they will boycott the speech in a protest over human rights abuses.

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Paris says that, at an official level, France remains keen to boost trade as well as political relations with the world's fastest-growing economy.

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05 Jun 03  |  Asia-Pacific
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04 Jun 99  |  Tiananmen Square

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