Sarkozy to meet Hu, attend Expo

08:20, April 28, 2010      

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In what is widely considered to be somewhat of a fence-mending tour, French President Nicolas Sarkozy starts a three-day visit to China today, ahead of Friday's opening ceremony for the World Expo in Shanghai, where he is due to inaugurate France's pavilion.

The president is also expected to seek support for United Nations sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, as well as promote his vision of an overhaul of the global monetary system - making it less dependent on the US dollar - in his meetings with China leaders, including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

Chinese analysts say Sarkozy's visit could lay the groundwork for normalizing bilateral relations, but they don't expect China to compromise on core issues as it pursues a sound relationship with European Union members.

Ties became strained in 2008, as protesters disrupted the Beijing Olympic torch relay through Paris and Sarkozy met with the Dalai Lama. The meeting drew the ire of China and prompted Chinese leaders to postpone the 11th China- EU summit.

Sarkozy also implied that he might not attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, but he ended up attending.

The president will kick off his visit in Xi'an, northwest Shaanxi Province. He plans to meet with Hu today, top legislator Wu Bangguo tomorrow and Wen on Friday.

He will also open the French Pavilion and attend the opening ceremony of the World Expo in Shanghai with his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who normally does not travel with him during foreign trips.

Economic Minister Christine Lagarde and other ministers will accompany Sarkozy, and he is likely to present his proposal for a diversified global monetary system that has the potential to weaken the dollar's dominant status.

The diversified monetary system is also a major point Sarkozy plans to raise at the G8 and G20 summits to be held in France next year. But a presidential adviser told Reuters that neither country this week will address the monetary question in terms of specific currencies.

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