France says review of China nuclear relations "normal"

Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:34pm EST
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By Lucy Hornby

BEIJING (Reuters) - France's Trade Minister Nicole Bricq said on Monday a decision by her country's new government to review the country's nuclear cooperation with China was a regular process and was "normal".

At the end of December, Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said France was investigating a nuclear partnership deal between EDF and Chinese nuclear utility China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation Holding (CGNPC).

That investigation is looking into why the deal initially excluded French nuclear reactor maker Areva and at the extent to which French strategic interests could be at risk.

Bricq, who was in China paying the second visit to the country by a French minister this month, said it was not surprising for a team that has been out of power for 10 years to undergo a "regular process to set strategy."

President Francois Hollande's socialist party won the 2012 presidential election after a decade of conservative rule.

On Tuesday, Bricq will visit two next-generation EPR reactors being built by French utility EDF and by CGNPC in Taishan, Guangdong province.

She said construction is proceeding at a good pace and that if all continues smoothly, the reactors could be operational in 2014.

"This will provide the world with a window on this technology," Bricq said.   Continued...

France's Foreign Trade Minister Nicole Bricq gestures during a news conference at the French Embassy in Beijing, January 21, 2013. REUTERS/China Daily