Brief – French defence minister seeks to calm US nerves over China arms embargo

Strict arms controls will be maintained even after the EU lifts the China embargo, says France’s defence minister in a bid to calm US concerns during a Washington visit.  

European efforts to calm US opposition to the planned lifting of the China arms embargo are being stepped up. France’s Defence Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie met with her US counterpart Donald Rumsfeld in Washington on 10 March.

She stated that “France has the strictest, most stringent rules applying to the sales of weapons of the European Union, and probably in the world,” and this will continue to apply. “We don’t sell our state-of-the-art technologies to just anyone,” she said,  underlining that ending the embargo was a “symbolic matter” and continuing it would be “counterproductive”. 

Meanwhile at a European Parliament hearing in Strasbourg, the liberal group leader Graham Watson stressed the need to get the conditions right: “The political signals from Beijing remain worrying. We need to share common values before selling arms,” he said.

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