China's Xi tells Macron, Merkel he hopes to expand cooperation with Europe

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Event marking the 70th anniversary of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army's participation in the Korean War in Beijing

BEIJING (Reuters) -Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday told French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel he hoped China and Europe would expand cooperation to better respond to global challenges, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

In a three-way video call, Xi also expressed the hope that Europeans can play a more active role in international affairs, achieve strategic independence and offer a fair, transparent and unbiased environment for Chinese companies, CCTV said.

Merkel's office confirmed that the three leaders exchanged views on European Union-China relations.

"They also discussed international trade, climate protection and biodiversity," her office added in a statement.

"The conversation also revolved around cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, global vaccine supply, and international and regional issues."

In May, the European Parliament halted ratification of a new investment pact with China until Beijing lifts sanctions on EU politicians, deepening a dispute in Sino-European relations and denying EU companies greater access to China.

(Reporting by Colin Qian, Ryan Woo; and by Paul Carrel in BerlinEditing by Alison Williams and Thomas Escritt)

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