France, China to form nuclear power partnership
* France, China agree to build reactors in common
* China signs $20 bln of business contracts in France
PARIS, Nov 4 (Reuters) - France and China have agreed to form a strategic partnership in civilian nuclear power that ranges from building reactors in common to exploiting uranium mines, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday.
His announcement came after a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao, in France for a three-day visit, and the signing of a slew of business deals including a $3.5 billion contract with energy firm Areva CEFPi.PA to supply 20,000 tonnes of uranium.
The partnership marks the coming together of French expertise in civilian nuclear power -- France is overwhelmingly dependent on nuclear energy -- and China's insatiable appetite for cheap energy to fuel its economic growth.
"We have decided to work without limits on a strategic collaboration in the nuclear domain that will go much farther on the full spectrum of nuclear activity," Sarkozy said in a speech after a deal-signing ceremony in the presidential palace.
The two countries will work on nuclear reactors, fuel recycling and uranium extraction and will consider selling the products of their collaboration to third parties, he added.
During a visit aimed at smoothing over trade tensions with Europe and discussing France's upcoming Group of 20 initiatives, Paris and Beijing solidified their business ties with some $20 billion worth of deals.
Hu assured France of China's backing when it takes over the presidency of the G20 economic leadership forum later this month and both leaders called for broad reforms of the financial system with the aim of reducing global economic imbalances. (Reporting by Yann Le Guernigou and Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Matthew Jones)