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8february20102China on 4 February announced it was 'delighted' that French President Nicolas Sarkozy would visit the country in spring, turning a new page after two years of tense relations provoked by a pre-2008 Olympics confrontation over Tibet.

China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on a visit to France declared, "we are delighted" in response to news that the French leader would visit in April or May to attend the Universal Exhibition in Shanghai. "It is a new page in Sino-French relations," the foreign minister said. Mr Yang said Mr Sarkozy had told him that "France is ready to work with China to further promote the global strategic partnership [between the two countries]."

The French leader stressed the importance of Sino-French cooperation especially to "jointly fight the international financial crisis and climate change", the Chinese foreign minister said.

In December 2009 French Prime Minister Francois Fillon announced a thaw in relations during his visit to China, insisting that "misunderstandings" between Paris and Beijing were a thing of the past. Relations between the two nations deteriorated in 2008 when pro-Tibet protesters disrupted the Paris leg of China's around-the-world Olympic torch relay.

The two countries' relationship reached a low point in December 2008 when President Sarkozy met Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, whom Beijing accuses of seeking independence for the Himalayan region - a claim which the monk denies.

Mr. Yang said on Thursday that China's President Hu Jintao would also visit France in 2010.

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