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Chinese President Xi visits the French Pyrenees in a personal gesture by French President Macron

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Paris ( Imran Y. CHOUDHRY ):- France’s president hosted China’s leader at a remote mountain pass in the Pyrenees on Tuesday for private meetings after a high-stakes state visit in Paris dominated by trade disputes and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron made a point of inviting Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Tourmalet Pass near the Spanish border, where Macron spent time as a child visiting his grandmother. It is meant to be a reciprocal gesture after Xi took Macron last year to the residence of the governor of Guangdong province, where the Chinese president’s father once lived.

Macron and his wife Brigitte greeted Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan at the airport in France’s southwestern Pyrenees region on Tuesday, and took them to lunch in the mountains after a day of talks and state pomp in Paris on Monday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping showed little sign of being ready to offer big concessions on trade or foreign policy as he wrapped up a two-day visit to France, during which President Emmanuel Macron pressed him on market access and Ukraine.

Snow coated nearby slopes after new snowfall overnight, and security was tightened around the area. The winding roads up to the pass were blocked by authorities Tuesday for dozens of kilometers.

Foggy weather, falling snow and brisk winds obscured the view of the dramatic Tourmalet Pass. Macron and Xi — together with their wives, Brigitte Macron and Peng Liyuan — visited a mountain restaurant. Before lunch, protected from the elements by umbrellas, they watched a traditional folk dance performance on the terrace. The leaders could be seen eating ham and blueberry pie, among other local specialties.

Macron presented Xi with a yellow Tour de France jersey — with the Tourmalet Pass one of the most famous climbs of the race — a woollen blanket made in the Pyrenees and a bottle of Armagnac.

The mountain meetings come after a grandiose state visit by Xi on Monday that included a ceremonial welcome at the monument housing Napoleon’s tomb and a state dinner at the Elysee Palace with celebrities and magnates.

Xi is on a trip to Europe aimed at reinvigorating relations at a time of global tensions. He heads next to Serbia and Hungary.

The last day of his visit to France came as authorities were searching the European Parliament office of a prominent German far-right lawmaker in Brussels on Tuesday.

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