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Solana: EU ready to lift China arms embargo
Updated: 2004-02-05 14:10

The European Union is ready to lift a 14-year-old arms embargo on China, despite US opposition, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

But in a brief interview with Geneva newspaper Le Temps, Solana said lifting the embargo, imposed after 1989, would not necessarily result in more weapons being sold.

"It seems to me, after the discussions we had a few days ago... (that) the EU is ready to do it," he said, without giving further details.

French President Jacques Chirac said during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit that the 14-year-long embargo,slapped on China after 1989 "makes no more sense today." Chirac said he hoped the ban on Beijing would be scrapped "in the coming months".

However, EU foreign ministers rebuffed a bid by France to lift the ban by April 1.

Solana told Le Temps that China's leaders belonged to a "different generation".

But the move would be essentially a "political gesture", he added.

It would have little impact in practice because EU arms business remained tightly controlled by a 1998 code of conduct on the sale of equipment .

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