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Elysee Holds First Reception for Chinese New Year

2010. 17 February

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (2nd R) and Prime Minister Francois Fillon (1st R) shake hands with delegates at a ceremony celebrating the Chinese New year, the year of Tiger, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, capital of France, Feb. 16, 2010. [Photo:Xinhua/Zhang Yuwei]

( French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with hundreds of Chinese representatives during a reception at Elysee on Tuesday, the first celebration of Chinese Spring Festival at the presidential palace.

At the reception, which aims to co-celebrate the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, the president greeted happy new year to around 800 Asian attendees, mainly Chinese-French and Chinese visitors living in France.

Sarkozy said the relations between France and Asian countries, including China, was becoming closer and closer. He has visited China three times since he took office as French President and Prime Minister Francois Fillon also visited China last year.

This year, he will attend the opening ceremony of the Shanghai World Expo in China and receive Chinese President Hu Jintao in Paris, Sarkozy said.

To welcome the Year of the Tiger, Sarkozy extended his best wishes to all Chinese nationals living in France.

Sino-French friendship is a precious treasure not only for both peoples of the two countries but also for the world, Jean-David Levitte, Sarkozy's foreign affairs adviser, told Xinhua.

Besides the Shanghai World Expo, President Sarkozy also plans to meet with his Chinese counterpart Hu during his spring visit to China, in the hope of building up and enriching the traditional friendship between the two nations, Levitte added.

This was the first time for France to guest Chinese nationals at Presidential palace for Chinese New Year, said Sun Wenxiong, the adviser of Chinese affairs for the French reigning party Union for a Popular Movement.

This activity represented several positive signals, including China's rising profile in the international state, stronger China-France relations and integration of Chinese nationals into French mainstream society, Sun added. Source: