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Chinese President Xi Jinping on key Europe visit

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Photo: Doug Mills/Pool / ReutersPhoto: Doug Mills/Pool / ReutersChinese President Xi Jinping has landed in the Netherlands on his first trip to Europe as leader, bbc reports.

He and his wife Peng Liyuan were welcomed by Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

His tour will include France, Germany and Belgium as well as the headquarters of the EU in Brussels.

A 200-strong business delegation is accompanying him on a trip expected to be dominated by trade.

On the agenda is a possible order for 150 Airbus jets.

Mr Xi is also likely to face pressure from Western powers to be firmer with Russia over its actions in Ukraine.

China usually supports Russia in foreign policy issues, but last week declined to fully back its ally over Ukraine.

Beijing abstained from a vote at the UN that would have condemned Russia's takeover of Ukraine's Crimea region.

The BBC's John Sudworth in Shanghai says Europe and China have a relationship often marred by friction.

A tit-for-tat trade dispute, with China targeting French wine after the EU imposed tariffs on Chinese solar panels, was only resolved on Friday.

The Chinese leader and Dutch king were due to attend a dinner at the royal palace on Amsterdam's central Dam Square.

Amnesty International has organised a protest on the square, calling for attention to human rights abuses in China.

Mr Xi arrived in advance of a G7 meeting on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague next week.

He is expected to discuss the situation in Ukraine with President Obama on the sidelines of the summit.

Correspondents say the Chinese president is likely to repeat Beijing's call for "calm and restraint" in the crisis.

The Chinese leader will also meet French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on his trip, which ends in Belgium on 1 April.

One side issue of note from the visit comes from reports in the German press suggesting that the Chinese delegation had asked for an official visit, accompanied by Chancellor Merkel, to a Holocaust memorial.

Berlin is said to have refused, fearing that it would be used by China as propaganda to highlight its complaint that Japan has not done enough to atone for its militaristic past.

Der Spiegel reports that the Chinese delegation has been told that President Xi is free to visit memorials in his own time.

March 27 2014, 12:48

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