France says review of nuclear cooperation with China "normal"

BEIJING Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:02am EST

BEIJING Jan 21 (Reuters) - French Trade Minister Nicole Bricq said on Monday a decision by her country's new government to conduct a review of French-Chinese nuclear relations was a regular process and was "normal".

At the end of December, Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said that 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.

Bricq played down concerns about Chinese irritation over the French investigation, as Moscovici did during his visit to Beijing two weeks ago.

"The important thing is to continue the Sino-French cooperation," Bricq told reporters in Beijing.

Bricq said her Chinese counterpart, Commerce Minister Chen Deming, had not expressed any undue concern about the review. (Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Anthony Barker)