China's Xi calls for appropriate handling of disputes with Britain

September 5, 2016 10:22 PM EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China and Britain should increase mutual political trust and appropriately handle disputes, Chinese President Xi Jinping told British Prime Minister Theresa May, as the two nations grapple with a delayed $8 billion nuclear power investment from China.

Meeting May on the sidelines of the G20 leaders' summit in the Chinese city of Hangzhou on Monday, Xi said China wanted to continue to promote "even more stable, better" relations with Britain's new government, China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued late on Monday.

The two should continue to promote cooperation in the areas of investment, energy, infrastructure and finance, Xi added.

"Both sides should increase political mutual trust, expand common interests and appropriately handle disputes," he said.

There was no direct mention in the statement of the delayed nuclear project.

Since taking office, May has delayed a decision on whether to back a $24 billion nuclear project at Hinkley Point, to be built by French firm EDF with the help of $8 billion from China.

May has asked her security advisers to review the project. It would be Britain's first new nuclear power plant in decades.

Cast as the jewel illustrating a new "Golden Era" of relations between China and Britain, the Hinkley financing deal was signed in Downing Street during a state visit to Britain by President Xi Jinping last year.

A British official told reporters at the G20 that Xi told May he was open to a bilateral trade agreement between the two countries.[nU8N19K00M]

(Corrects China investment $8 billion, not $8 million, in par 1 & 6)

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)

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