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


    TOURMALET PASS, France — 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.

    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 woolen blanket made in the Pyrenees and a bottle of Armagnac, French broadcaster BFMTV said.

    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 left France from the Pyrenees on Tuesday evening by plane, in a departure ceremony that included military fanfare.

    The Elysee said Tuesday it welcomed the dialogue between Macron and Xi, which was “friendly but also very frank,” according to BFMTV. The broadcaster also noted that Macron had brought up the issue of human rights with the Chinese president, including “a few individual cases”.

    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, Germany’s top prosecutor’s office said.

    Maximilian Krah, the Alternative for Germany party’s top candidate in the upcoming European Parliament election, has been under scrutiny after an assistant of his was arrested last month on suspicion of spying for China.



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