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Sarkozy in China for G20 meet before Japan visit

BEIJING, Mar 30 – French President Nicolas Sarkozy was due in China on Wednesday at the start of an Asian mini-tour that will include a G20 seminar on the world monetary system and a stop in disaster-struck Japan.

After his arrival at about 3:00 pm (0700 GMT), Sarkozy is due to meet with French nationals at his country\’s new embassy in Beijing before talks and a working dinner with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Aides to Sarkozy said those talks would touch on key bilateral concerns but also hot-button global issues — notably the coalition military campaign against Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, backed by Paris but opposed by Beijing.

Following his meetings with Hu, the French leader will head to the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, where on Thursday he will open a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from G20 nations on global monetary reform.

France currently holds the rotating presidency of the Group of 20 leading economies.

The meeting — which comes as the global recovery faces major challenges such as Japan\’s quake-tsunami disaster and the ongoing eurozone debt woes — aims to hone in on key ways to reform the monetary system.

The day will feature closed-door group sessions and a keynote speech from International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

At a meeting in Paris in February, the G20 agreed to a set of indicators to measure economic imbalances between surplus exporters such as China and nations with structural deficits such as the United States.

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After Sarkozy delivers the opening speech, he will head to Tokyo in a show of solidarity from France and both the G8 and G20 following the March 11 disaster, which has left about 28,000 dead and missing and sparked a nuclear crisis.

The French leader will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and French nationals living in Tokyo before heading home to Paris.


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