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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

China ready to mend ties with France: govt

January 25, 2009

BEIJING January 23 2009 (AFP) — China said Thursday it was ready to mend ties with France following a deep row over Tibet, in its first conciliatory move since tensions flared last year.
 
But it said it was up to France to take the first step after a meeting between the French president and Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama damaged relations between the two nations.
 
"We are ready to work with France to improve our bilateral relations. This is in the interest of the two countries and their people," assistant foreign minister Wu Hongbo told reporters.
 
"France is a great country, French people are great people."
 
China opposes any foreign leaders meeting the Dalai Lama, whom it accuses of trying to seek independence from Chinese rule for his Himalayan homeland, and Wu said his country was not to blame for the rift.
 
"We very much hope that there will be an improvement in bilateral relations, however, as the Chinese saying goes, the one who tied the knot should be the one who unties it," Wu said.
 
"As the one who tied the knot, France, I believe, is clear about what needs to be done."
 
Relations between France and China suffered a major setback in December over President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama in Poland.
 
Angered by plans to hold the meeting, Beijing took the unprecedented step of postponing a summit with the European Union in France that had been scheduled for December 1.
 
At the time, France held the rotating presidency of the EU.
 
Wu was speaking at a briefing about Wen Jiabao's visit to Europe next week, during which the Chinese premier will visit Switzerland, Germany, Spain and Britain, as well as the EU headquarters in Brussels -- but not France.
 
France said on Friday it wanted a constructive dialogue with China and a calm relationship.
 
But Paris did not say whether it was willing to make a special gesture towards Beijing.
 
"As we have repeatedly said, France wants to have a relationship with China that is useful to all, stable and calm," said French foreign ministry spokesman Frederic Desagneaux.
 
"This relationship is in the interest of our two peoples and our two countries," he said. "That is why we would like to pursue a dialogue that builds confidence and is constructive with China."
 
A French foreign ministry spokesman denied on Tuesday that Wen's omission of his country was a snub to Sarkozy's government.
 
Wen's visit -- which will also incorporate a speech at the annual Davos gathering of the world's political and business elite -- will be the first since China postponed the summit.
 
Wu said that China was willing to work with the EU to reinstate the summit.
 
"The meeting has been delayed, it does not mean it has been cancelled," he said.
 
"We stand ready to communicate with the European Union side to decide on the venue and time of the next EU-China summit."
 
As well as fixing frayed ties, the premier's visit will also be aimed at fighting the global economic crisis, and Wu said one of the topics of discussion would be the G20 summit in London in April.
 
He said Wen and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown would issue a joint statement on coping with the crisis, while some trade deals were also on the cards.
 
"China will... sign a series of important cooperation documents with the four countries and the European Union in fields of economy, trade, investment, energy, science, technology, culture and education," Wu said.
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