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Xi visit sets 'landmark' in EU-China ties

Published on Mar 31, 2014 11:57 PM

BRUSSELS (AFP) - Chinese leader Xi Jinping, on the last leg of a maiden tour of Europe, on Monday made a ground-breaking visit to European Union headquarters underlining China's bid to firm up bilateral ties.

"This first visit by a Chinese president to the EU was a historic landmark in EU-China relations," a joint EU-China statement said. "Both sides... welcomed the significant strengthening of bilateral ties over the last 40 years."

After arriving Sunday to a red-carpet welcome from Belgium's royals, and visiting a pair of pandas on loan from Beijing, Xi got down to serious business in talks that touched on the crisis in Ukraine, human rights and quarrels over trade.

In the run-up to the historic visit, both sides expressed the need for deeper bonds between peoples that make up a quarter of the world's population and represent a third of the world economy.

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