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France seeking 'clear message' from China to Russia over Ukraine war

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France's Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Stephane Sejourne (left) and China's Foreign Minister, Wang Yi hold shake hands during a press conference after their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing, China on Monday (1/4/2024). (Photo: AFP/Ken Ishii)

 

VOInews, Beijing: France's top diplomat said Monday (1/4/2024) that Paris expects China to send "clear messages" to its close partner Russia over its war in Ukraine, after meetings with his counterpart in Beijing. France and China have sought to strengthen ties in recent years and, during meetings in Paris in February, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told President Emmanuel Macron that Beijing appreciated his country's "independent" stance. But Paris has also sought to press Beijing on its close ties with Moscow, which have only grown closer since the invasion of Ukraine.

While China says it is a neutral party in the Ukraine conflict, it has been criticized for refusing to condemn Moscow for its offensive. Paris has, in contrast, become one of Kyiv's firmest backers, with Macron in February even refusing to rule out putting troops on the ground in Ukraine.

 

Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné said Monday it wanted "China to send very clear messages to Russia" over its war in Ukraine. He said Beijing could play a "key role" in ensuring respect for international law is maintained.

 

"We are convinced that there will be no lasting peace if it is not negotiated with the Ukrainians... There will be no security for Europeans if there is no peace in accordance with international law," he told a press conference in Beijing, speaking alongside his Chinese counterpart Wang, as reported by AFP. "It is an essential issue for us, which is why France is determined to maintain a close dialogue with China."

 

Sejourne's visit is the second to China by a French foreign minister in less than six months, following a trip by his predecessor, Catherine Colonna, in November. Macron also visited last April, receiving a rock star welcome at a university in southern China from hundreds of screaming students and fans. But he faced accusations of cozying up to Beijing and sparked controversy by saying Europe shouldn't be a "follower" of the United States in the event of a conflict with China over Taiwan.

 

The top diplomat's visit this week comes as part of events marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and China. He will later in the day take part in the launch of the "Versailles and the Forbidden City" exhibition, where around sixty works of art and valuables from the palace will be open to the public until the end of June. (AFP)

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