Macron counting on Xi to 'bring Russia to senses'

French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping

French President Emmanuel Macron has urged his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to use his influence to help stop Russia's war in Ukraine.

"I know I can count on you to bring Russia to its senses," he told Mr Xi at the start of talks in Beijing.

Mr Xi said their two countries had the "ability and responsibility" to safeguard world peace.

The French leader is on a state visit to China, which has refused to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Accompanied by a large business delegation, Mr Macron is also seeking to bolster trade ties. He is joined by European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, who he invited to take part in talks with Chinese leadership.

The visit is being highly scrutinised after years of deteriorating relations between the West and China.

On Thursday afternoon, Mr Macron was treated to an elaborate military parade in Beijing, before entering closed-door talks with Mr Xi.

The two are expected to hold a three-way discussion with Ms von der Leyen - who is in Beijing on Mr Macron's invitation - later in the evening, and attend a state dinner.

In meetings earlier on Thursday with other top Chinese officials, including the country's number two Premier Li Qiang, Mr Macron and Ms von der Leyen had called for increased dialogue with Beijing.

Shortly after he landed in Beijing on Wednesday, Mr Macron told reporters there was growing concern over the "inescapable spiral of mounting tensions" between the West and China stoked by the war.

But "China's interest isn't to have a lasting war" and Beijing could play a "major role" in ending it, he added.

China has released a 12-point plan for peace in Ukraine, amid a recent push to play a bigger role in international diplomacy.

While Western nations have been generally dismissive of the proposals, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky has called for direct talks with Mr Xi - who has yet to publicly respond.

Mr Macron also pushed back on the idea of decoupling from the Chinese economy, noting the strong business ties between France and China.

He is travelling with a delegation comprising business leaders, artists and museum officials. They include top executives from plane manufacturer Airbus, luxury group LVMH, and nuclear energy producer EDF.

The trip to Beijing, four years after Mr Macron last paid a visit to Mr Xi, takes place during strikes and unrest in France over unpopular reforms of the pension system.

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