Saturday, May 18, 2024

Chinese leader Xi visits the French Pyrenees in a personal gesture by Macron

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France’s president hosted China’s leader at a remote mountain pass in the Pyrenees on Tuesday for private meetings after a high-stakes state visit in Paris dominated by trade disputes and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron made a point of inviting Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Tourmalet Pass near the Spanish border, where Mr Macron spent time as a child visiting his grandmother.

It is meant to be a reciprocal gesture after Mr Xi took Mr Macron to the residence of the governor of Guangdong province last year, where the Chinese president’s father once lived.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan with French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte at the Tourmalet pass in the Pyrenees mountains (AP Photo/Aurelien Morissard, Pool)

The winding roads up to the pass were blocked by authorities Tuesday for dozens of kilometres.

Foggy weather, falling snow and brisk winds obscured the view of the dramatic Tourmalet Pass.

Mr Macron and Mr Xi — together with their wives, Brigitte Macron and Peng Liyuan — visited a mountain restaurant.

Before lunch, protected from the elements by umbrellas, they watched a traditional folk dance performance on the terrace.

The leaders could be seen eating ham and blueberry pie, among other local specialities.

France China
The French and Chinese leaders watched folklore dancers at the Tourmalet pass, in the Pyrenees mountains (AP Photo/Aurelien Morissard, Pool)

The mountain meetings come after a grandiose state visit by Mr Xi on Monday that included a ceremonial welcome at the monument housing Napoleon’s tomb and a state dinner at the Elysee Palace with celebrities and magnates.

Mr Xi is on a trip to Europe aimed at reinvigorating relations at a time of global tensions.

He heads next to Serbia and Hungary.

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