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Premier Li Keqiang arrives in France for official visit

Updated: Jun 30,2015 5:38 AM     Xinhua

PARIS — Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Paris late June 29 for a four-day visit to France.

It is the first official visit by a Chinese premier to the European country in nearly a decade.

During his stay in France, Li is scheduled to visit the cities of Paris, Marseilles and Toulouse, deliver a speech at the headquarters of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and attend the closing ceremony of a China-France business summit.

He is also expected to meet with French President Francois Hollande, Prime Minister Manuel Valls, presidents of the Senate and the French National Assembly, the OECD secretary-general as well as the director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

An array of business contracts and government accords on areas ranging from aviation and finance to civil nuclear power and joint development of the third-party market are expected to be signed during Li’s visit.

France is the first major Western country to establish ambassadorial-level diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China in 1964.

Upon his arrival, Li said he looks forward to discussing with the French leaders how to consolidate the political mutual trust and traditional friendship between the two countries and how to speed up the transformation and upgrade of their bilateral practical cooperation as well as trilateral cooperation along with a third party.

The Premier added that he will also exchange views with the French leaders on international and regional issues of common concern and push the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries to a new height.

Meanwhile, Li said he also expects the two sides to elevate their cooperation in such areas as people-to-people exchanges and science and technology.

Li arrived in France after wrapping up a trip to Belgium. During his less than 30-hour stay in Brussels, he attended nearly 20 events, delivered two important speeches and reached deals worth tens of billions of dollars.

The Premier “reached important consensus” on international capacity cooperation with European and Belgium leaders, and his visit further enhanced the China-EU, China-Belgium pragmatic cooperation.

The visit comes after President Xi Jinping paid a historic visit to France in 2014 on the 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties, during which the two sides agreed to elevate their relations to a close and lasting comprehensive strategic partnership.

EU statistics show that China-France trade volume hit $55 billion in 2014, a 5.3-percent growth year on year. China now stands as France’s eighth largest export market and sixth largest source of imports.

Li’s visit also comes as China and the OECD celebrate 20 years of partnership and is expected to help the global economic organization better understand the stance of the emerging markets and developing countries.