China s Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) and French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna attend a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing on November 24, 2023. AFP
Colonna's talks in Beijing come the same day that a truce between Israel and Hamas took effect, with the Palestinian group set to release a first group of 13 captives later Friday, and a total of 50 over four days.
"For us, all the hostages must be released. All, and not just 50," Colonna said during a briefing with French journalists.
Around 240 people were captured during Hamas's cross-border offensive into Israel last month. On the other side, Israel has detained around 5000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons under vague political charges.
Paris has said that the conflict in the Middle East will be high on the agenda for Colonna and her Chinese counterparts.
"China is an actor with growing weight in the region" due to its "strong relationship" with Iran, a French diplomatic source said this week.
"The first thing we expect from China in this conflict is to join its efforts with ours to ensure that we avoid any regional escalation," they added.
Beijing has this year sought to play a greater role in the Middle East, facilitating a historic rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and sending an envoy to the region to push for a ceasefire in Israel's Gaza war.
Received Friday morning by Premier Li under the chandeliers of Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Colonna said China and France shared "global responsibilities" as permanent members of the Security Council.
The two must "strive to find answers to major challenges, in particular the challenges of climate, biodiversity and anything that can ease tensions in the world", she said.
Li, in turn, noted a "positive trend of Sino-French cooperation on all fronts".
"This close cooperation between China and France has also injected a lot of positive energy and provided more certainty to the uncertain world today," he added.
Colonna then met her counterpart Wang at Peking University in the afternoon, restarting a high-level China-France dialogue on other areas of cooperation.
Put on hold during the pandemic, the series of talks, which began in 2014, concerns subjects like academic, scientific, cultural and sporting exchanges, as well as issues linked to tourism and questions of gender equality.
Colonna will soon hold formal bilateral talks with Wang, before a joint press conference in the evening.
France and China will sign a series of agreements in areas such as education, culture, university exchanges and health, Paris has said.
And Beijing announced Friday that French citizens would be among a number of countries granted visa-free entry to China for up to 15 days.
Citizens of Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia will also be included in the scheme, which begins on December 1.
*This story was edited by Ahram Online