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China reaches out to Europe to tackle crisis

China and Switzerland have pledged to work "hand in hand" to tackle the global financial crisis during an official visit by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

The prime minister, in Bern on Tuesday ahead of the World Economic Forum, said he was ready to work with Europe and Switzerland to restore trust in the international markets and stressed the importance of Sino-Swiss economic links, which he said were the result of "fruitful collaboration" over the past 50 years.

Media and public access around the parliament building was restricted in an attempt to avoid a repeat of Tibetan protests during a visit by former Chinese President Jiang Zemin ten years ago.

The visit attracted a group of 21 protestors outside parliament who were held by police and later released.

Aside from bilateral talks, Wen signed an accord giving Swiss companies with business links to China greater legal protection in the country.

The two countries also agreed to carry out a joint feasibility study on a potential free-trade agreement. A working group will start looking into the issue in the spring, the economics ministry said.

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