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France PM heading to China to talk business, climate

[PARIS] French Prime Minister Manuel Valls will travel to China this week with a 50-strong team of business leaders, hoping to boost commercial ties and seek Beijing's support in climate talks.

Mr Valls will meet his counterpart Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping in Beijing during the three-day trip that starts on Thursday.

The visit comes as France and China celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations.

Mr Valls will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius as they seek to reinforce economic and industrial ties, reduce trade barriers and boost the number of students and tourists coming to France, an advisor to the prime minister said.

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Among the business leaders on the trip will be the heads of aerospace firms Airbus and Thales, and energy firms EDF and Areva.

Some 15 agreements are due to be signed during the trip, and France is hoping to press the case for increased nuclear power cooperation.

Mr Valls will also seek China's cooperation on climate talks ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference being hosted by Paris at the end of the year, where it is hoped a universal and legally binding agreement can be forged.

"There can't be any success at the climate conference if China is not on board," said a diplomat.