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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 March, 2004, 12:11 GMT
EU works to end China arms ban
Javier Solana and China's foreign minister Li  Zhaoxing
Mr Solana discussed the embargo with China's foreign minister Li Zhaoxing
A senior European Union official has said he is working to end the EU's arms embargo against China, imposed almost 15 years ago.

EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, was speaking after talks in Beijing with the Chinese foreign minister, Li Zhaoxing.

Mr Li said the embargo was a "relic of the cold war" and should be lifted.

The weapons embargo was imposed in June 1989, following the violent suppression of pro-democracy protests.

"We are going to see if we can solve it in an orderly fashion, in such a manner that the decision will contribute to the better of the relationship between the European Union and China and at the same time will not contribute to the increasing of weapons in the region, but contribute to the stability of the region," Mr Solana said.

Growing pressure

France has spearheaded the bid to lift the ban, arguing it is "anachronistic" given improved ties between China and the EU.

The governments of Spain and the Netherlands have also voiced support for its lifting.

EU foreign ministers discussed ending the embargo at a meeting in January and said a final decision could be made later this month at the next summit of EU national leaders

But earlier this month US Secretary of State Colin Powell appealed to the EU not to scrap the embargo because of China's human rights record.

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