Macron takes Xi to French mountains to press messages on Ukraine, trade

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday is to host Chinese leader Xi Jinping at one of his beloved childhood haunts in the Pyrenees mountains, seeking to press a message to Beijing not to support Russia's war against Ukraine and to accept fairer trade.

The first day of Xi's state visit to France, his first to Europe since 2019, saw respectful but sometimes robust exchanges between the two men during a succession of talks on Monday.

Macron, joined initially by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, urged Xi not to allow the export of any technology that could be used by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine and to do all it could to end the war.

Xi for his part warned the West not to "smear" China over the conflict and also hit back at accusations that Chinese overcapacity was causing global trade imbalances.

The fresh mountain air at the village of Bagnere-de-Bigorre and the adjacent resort of La Mongie, as well as lunch accompanied by their wives Peng Liyuan and Brigitte Macron, will allow Xi and Macron to explore these issues in relative intimacy.

While born and brought up in Amiens in the north of France, the young "Manu" spent numerous winter and summer holidays with his late maternal grandparents in the area just below the Col du Tourmalet, over 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) above sea level and a legendary climb in the Tour de France.

Xi is expected to dine on local lamb, cheeses and wines in an environment the president hopes will help the pair get to the heart of the most pressing issues.

 'Count on China'

Europe is concerned that while officially neutral over the Ukraine conflict, China is essentially backing Russia, which is using Chinese machine tools in arms production.


Continue reading on: