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China's Xi to make UK state visit in October: Queen

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Britain's Queen Elizabeth II will host Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife for a state visit in October, the monarch said Wednesday in a speech outlining her government's legislative programme.

[LONDON] Britain's Queen Elizabeth II will host Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife for a state visit in October, the monarch said Wednesday in a speech outlining her government's legislative programme.

Delivering the speech at parliament written for her by Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative government, the 89-year-old queen said she and husband Prince Phillip "look forward to welcoming His Excellency the President of The People's Republic of China and Madame Peng on a state visit in October".

The queen's office later issued a statement saying that Mr Xi and his wife had accepted the invitation and would stay at Buckingham Palace.

Britain's Foreign Office said in January it was discussing a possible visit with the Chinese.

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The last state visit from China was by president Hu Jintao in 2005, although Mr Cameron and other British ministers visited Beijing in 2013. The queen and her husband paid a state visit to China in 1986.

The visit could be a sign of improved relations between London and China, which became frosty in 2012 when Mr Cameron met exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

The countries had also clashed over protests in Hong Kong, which Britain handed over to China in 1997.

Prince William, the queen's grandson and second-in-line to the throne, met Mr Xi in March in the highest-profile visit to China by a member of the royal family since the 1986 state visit.

The prince passed on an official invitation from the queen for October's trip.

Buckingham Palace has been on a charm offensive towards China, with Prince William issuing a Lunar New Year message in Mandarin ahead of his visit.

As well as the meeting with the queen, Mr Xi's trip is set to include a visit to parliament and a meeting with Mr Cameron.

AFP

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