China's Xi to make UK state visit in October: Queen

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife will be making a state visit to Britain in October, said Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife will be making a state visit to Britain in October, said Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 

LONDON (AFP) - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II will host Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife for a state visit in October, the monarch said on Wednesday in a speech outlining her government's legislative programme.

Delivering the speech at parliament written for her by Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative government, the 89-year-old queen said she and husband Prince Phillip "look forward to welcoming His Excellency the President of The People's Republic of China and Madame Peng on a state visit in October".

The queen's office later issued a statement saying that Xi and his wife had accepted the invitation and would stay at Buckingham Palace.

Britain's Foreign Office said in January it was discussing a possible visit with the Chinese.

The last state visit from China was by president Hu Jintao in 2005, although Cameron and other British ministers visited Beijing in 2013. The queen and her husband paid a state visit to China in 1986.

The visit could be a sign of improved relations between London and China, which became frosty in 2012 when Cameron met exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

The countries had also clashed over protests in Hong Kong, which Britain handed over to China in 1997.

Prince William, the queen's grandson and second-in-line to the throne, met Xi in March in the highest-profile visit to China by a member of the royal family since the 1986 state visit.

The prince passed on an official invitation from the queen for October's trip.

Buckingham Palace has been on a charm offensive towards China, with William issuing a Lunar New Year message in Mandarin ahead of his visit.

As well as the meeting with the queen, Xi's trip is set to include a visit to parliament and a meeting with Cameron.