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   Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah met the presidents of Portugal and France in May during his first official overseas trip for 10 days in May since taking the helm on December 20 last year. The Chief Executive was accompanied by a delegation of Macau businessmen and government officials, including Macau Legislative Assembly President Susana Chou and Secretary for Economy and Finance, Francis Tam Pak-yuen.

    The Chief Executive held meetings with Portugal's top political leaders during his 3-day stay in Lisbon, namely President Jorge Sampaio, Premier Ant-nio Guterres, Foreign Minister Jaime Gama and the Speaker of the Portuguese Parliament, Ant-nio Almeida Santos.

    Mr Ho and Mr Gama signed a reciprocal investment protection agreement. Mr Gama said that Portugal was supporting efforts to ensure Macau SAR passport holders' visa-free entry into the European Union, namely the member states of the Schengen Agreement.

    Mr Sampaio hosted a banquet in honour of Mr Ho. The Portuguese president said the Chief Executive's visit would further "solidify" relations between Lisbon and Macau. Mr Sampaio and Mr Ho held a formal meeting before the banquet at the Queluz Palace in the outskirts of Lisbon.

    Mr Ho said he was optimistic about the further development of friendly relations and close co-operation between the Portuguese Republic and the Macau SAR. He also visited Macau's representative office in Lisbon and conferred with several cabinet ministers.

    French President Jacques Chirac received Mr Ho at his office in Paris. Mr Chirac revealed during the meeting that he had paid a private visit to Macau several years ago.

    Mr Ho said that Macau could play an important role in the development of Sino-French relations. The Chief Executive met a number of high-ranking government officials and prominent businessmen during his five-day stay in France.


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