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China, France Sign Deals Worth Billions Of Dollars

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, right, and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao wave as they drive down the Champs Elysees, Paris.
Chinese and French firms have signed a series of deals worth $20 billion at the start of a three-day state visit to France by China's President Hu Jintao.

The agreements were inked at a ceremony at the Elysee Palace. They include a deal to supply 102 Airbus planes and agreements with Areva to build a nuclear-fuel treatment factory in China and supply uranium over 10 years.

Earlier on November 4, French President Nicolas Sarkozy greeted Hu at Paris' Orly airport with military honors.

At a rally near the Eiffel Tower, Amnesty International France head, Genevieve Garrigos, complained that France had kept human rights off the agenda for the visit.

"The Chinese civil society and all those people fighting for human rights in China, like elsewhere, need support from the outside, from foreign countries," Garrigos asserted. "We need to show them that their fight is just, and it is important to show them that we all stand with them, and the French government should do the same."

Hu's visit marks a turnaround from tense relations two years ago, when Sarkozy threatened to boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics out of anger at China's policies regarding Tibet.

The visit also comes as France prepares to take over the leadership of the Group of 20 leading developed and developing nations on November 12.

compiled from agency reports