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French PM In China For Talks To Boost Trade

GILLIAN WONG

BEIJING (AP) ¿ Paris and Beijing were expected to sign a series of agreements Monday during the French prime minister's visit to boost trade with the Asian economic giant, an indication of improving relations a year after the French president angered China by meeting with the Dalai Lama.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon and Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang attended a ceremony Monday at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing to unveil a nameplate of a joint venture for the construction of two nuclear reactors in a deal that was announced last year.

"Nuclear cooperation is rooted in both our republics' aim to value technological innovation and energy independence," Fillon said. "These agreements also are a proof of the solid relations between China and France."

Fillon, who is accompanied by a business delegation, will meet with President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and the head of China's national legislature, Wu Bangguo, during his three-day visit. The two sides will sign a series of pacts later Monday.

The visit comes a year after China froze relations between the countries because French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing accuses of seeking Tibetan independence from Chinese rule. Sarkozy's meeting with him prompted China to cancel talks with the European Union and sparked a popular Chinese backlash against French products.

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