- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 29, 2010

BEIJING | France and China on Wednesday pledged to ease past tensions over Tibet and breathe new life into their relationship by working together on issues from global monetary policy to Iran.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his host, Chinese President Hu Jintao, made the comments after talks in Beijing that signaled they had moved past the Tibet row, which peaked in 2008 when Mr. Sarkozy met the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader.

“President Sarkozy’s visit to China has opened a new page in Sino-French relations,” Mr. Hu said in a joint media appearance with the French leader.

“We should hold close consultations and strengthen political coordination on the reform of the international monetary system,” climate change and other major issues, state television quoted Mr. Hu saying in their closed-door talks.

The French leader, making his second state visit to China, told journalists the pair had held “in-depth discussions about the Iranian crisis and the G20,” adding that the two sides would work together on global monetary reform.

The West has sought Chinese support for tough action on Tehran over its nuclear program, which some suspect is a cover to develop atomic weapons, and the issue had been expected to be high on Mr. Sarkozy’s agenda.

Beijing has been reluctant to punish Iran, a major trading partner and source of oil, but U.S. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said last week China would back new sanctions, predicting they could be agreed upon within days.

Mr. Sarkozy pledged France would work with China — which has sought greater say for developing countries in world financial affairs — for a new multipolar monetary system when his country assumes the rotating leadership of the G20 in November.

“We are going to prepare the French presidency of the G20 well in advance by thinking about a new multipolar monetary order,” he told reporters in the Great Hall of the People.

“I believe there can be no resumption of economic growth without global stability, and global stability is not possible without the greater involvement of China,” Mr. Sarkozy said.

He refrained from adding to pressure on China over the value of its currency, which critics such as the United States say is kept artificially low to boost Chinese exports at the expense of those from other countries.

“France’s belief is that it is totally unproductive to make accusations against one another. It is far more intelligent to prepare the necessary evolution of the monetary system in the 21st century,” Mr. Sarkozy said.

“We are going to think and work together.”

Relations nose-dived in March 2008, just four months after Mr. Sarkozy’s first state trip to China, when he expressed shock at the security crackdown in the Chinese-ruled region after protests there led to deadly violence.

A month later, the Chinese leadership was incensed when pro-Tibetan demonstrators booed and jostled the Olympic flame as it was carried through Paris on its way to the Beijing Games.

Tensions peaked with Mr. Sarkozy’s December 2008 audience with the Dalai Lama — whom Beijing accuses of seeking independence for his Tibetan homeland — before easing when Mr. Sarkozy met Hu at a G20 summit last year.

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