BEIJING (AP) — French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged a once reluctant China on Thursday to join Western nations in rebuilding Libya, inviting Beijing to a conference to discuss the North African country's future.
Stopping in Beijing for a few hours on his way to the South Pacific, Sarkozy said he and Chinese President Hu Jintao also discussed the global economy and the economic travails of Europe and the euro. Hu declared confidence in the eurozone and the euro, the French leader said, after his meeting and dinner with Hu.
On the war in Libya, China has been seen as less supportive of the rebels battling to oust Moammar Gadhafi than France and other Western countries such as Britain and the United States.
Sarkozy said he explained that it was important for the international community to have a common vision for Libya, and that they would like China to participate in next week's Paris international conference on Libya's future.
"We explained very exactly the shape of the situation and we have proposed that (the Chinese) be invited to the Paris conference that will prepare for a free Libya, the Libya of tomorrow," Sarkozy said, adding that Hu said he would consider the invitation.
"We must absolutely rebuild a unanimous vision among the international community and naturally China has a part of that," he said after meeting with Hu in Beijing's Great Hall of the People.
China sharply criticized the NATO-led air campaign against Gadhafi's forces and refused to condemn the dictator. It has called on the United Nations to take the lead in post-conflict arrangements in the oil-rich country.
Sarkozy was in Beijing for about five hours before heading to the South Pacific archipelago of New Caledonia, a French territory.
In opening remarks, Hu said it was crucial that the two countries work together to tackle the debt crisis.
China has been supportive of European countries as they tackle the spiraling crisis, with worries about defaults that could domino through the banking industry.
Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany held emergency talks in Paris earlier this month but failed to take immediate financial measures seen by many investors as the only way to halt the debt crisis, which has dragged on for nearly two years and resulted in a string of sovereign bailouts worth hundreds of billions of euros.
Sarkozy told reporters that Hu was not worried about the situation in the eurozone.
"Those of you who know China know that Hu has made a very definitive declaration about the confidence that he has in the eurozone and in the euro," he said. "The existence of the euro is not negotiable."
Sarkozy said the two also discussed an upcoming Group of 20 summit of heads of state in Cannes in November, and the need for greater coordination among members to promote global growth.
The French leader currently holds the presidency of the G-20 economic powers.