Sun, Apr 03, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Chirac still on China's side over arms sales

AFP , BEIJING

French President Jacques Chirac told Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in a telephone call that Paris will continue to support the lifting of the EU arms embargo on China, state media said yesterday.

"Chirac reaffirmed that the arms embargo against China is outdated, so it should be revoked at an early date," the Xinhua news agency said of the phone conversation which took place late on Friday.

"And France would continue to work to this end," it said, quoting Chirac.

Hu told the French president the embargo was "increasingly inappropriate" in the light of growing China-EU ties and was against the interests of both sides.

"Removing this political hurdle in Sino-EU relations at an early date is required by the latest development and conforms to the fundamental interests of both sides," Hu was quoted as saying.

"[It] will promote the healthy development of Sino-EU relations," he said.

Chirac told Japan last Sunday that China's desire for the EU to lift its arms embargo was "legitimate" and would not entail exports of sensitive weapons and technology.

France has been a prime supporter of ending the ban on selling arms to China, a move opposed by both the US and ally Japan.

The EU had initially set a goal of lifting the ban by the end of June, but support has waned since China passed a controversial "Anti-Secession" Law which authorizes the use of military force against Taiwan if it moves toward formal independence.

The ban was slapped on China after the 1989 massacre of students in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

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