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French PM greets Xi with Chinese 'Nihao'

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-05-06 08:04
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President Xi Jinping arrives in Paris for a state visit to France at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, May 5, 2024. Xi was received by French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal at Paris Orly airport upon arrival. [Photo/Xinhua]

PARIS -- As Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in Paris on Sunday for a state visit to France, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal greeted him at the airport with "Nihao," hello in Chinese.

Chinese and French national flags flutter in the wind at the airport as the French side rolled out red carpet for the Chinese leader. A team of high-level French government representatives headed by Attal were waiting for Xi's arrival. This diplomatic protocol arrangement shows that the French side attaches great importance to the visit.

It is Xi's third state visit to France, and his first trip to Europe in nearly five years. This year also marks the 60th anniversary of China-France diplomatic relations.

When Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, stepped out of the cabin, they waved to the welcoming crowds.

As Xi walked down the gangway, Attal stepped forward, and said "Nihao" to the Chinese leader.

Attal and Xi walked and chatted as he accompanied the Chinese leader to the limousine.

He told Xi that he once visited China when he was a lawmaker. "I studied Chinese for one year," he said.

"You speak very well, very standard. Welcome to China for a visit," Xi said with a smile.

The Chinese leader is also an enthusiast of French culture, who developed a keen interest in French history, philosophy, literature and art in his youth.

"France holds a special fascination for us Chinese," Xi said in a signed article published Sunday in French media Le Figaro.

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