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French president Macron lands in Sydney for talks on China influence, trade

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Emmanuel Macron has arrived in Sydney for talks with Malcolm Turnbull, with trade and security set to top the agenda.

French president Emmanuel Macron has arrived in Sydney for his first trip to Australia and has met Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Opera House.

Mr Macron arrived at Sydney Airport before 6pm on Tuesday ahead of dinner with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy.

The president was greeted by Mr and Mrs Turnbull at the foot of the Sydney Opera House steps before the trio watched the Badu Gili light show projected on the eastern Bennelong sail of the Opera House.

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French President Emmanuel Macron visits the Opera House
French President Emmanuel Macron visits the Opera House

The light show paid tribute to the traditional owners of Bennelong Point - the Gadigal people - with vibrant colours illuminating ancient stories and representing the rich history and vibrancy of Australia's First Nations culture.

Sydney's iconic Opera House was heavily guarded with police on the ground, patrolling the air and water, with officers also on bikes and horses.

France's President Emmanuel Macron at the Sydney Opera House.
France's President Emmanuel Macron at the Sydney Opera House.
AAP

Following the light show, Mr Macron and the Turnbulls headed inside for dinner with speeches expected to follow.

The president and prime minister are expected to focus on trade and defence and strategic issues, including French firm Naval Group's contract to build Australia's new fleet of 12 submarines in Adelaide. 

Mr Macron is travelling with a delegation of military and naval contractors.

China's growing influence in the South Pacific will also be discussed. France has a number of island territories in the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Australia's commitment to climate change action and French resistance to a European Union-Australian free trade deal are likely to be sensitive issues in bilateral discussions.

Australia and the European Union hope to fire the starter's gun on free trade negotiations by the middle of the year.

The EU parliament has granted the European Commission permission to begin negotiations, however the 28 member states are yet to officially approve a mandate.

France's President Emmanuel Macron meets with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy Turnbull at the Sydney Opera House.
France's President Emmanuel Macron meets with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy Turnbull at the Sydney Opera House.
AAP

The EU is Australia's second-largest trading partner and largest source of foreign direct investment, with trade worth $99.5 billion.

The Australian trip is Mr Macron's first visit Down Under. He hosted Mr Turnbull at the Elysee Palace in Paris in 2017.

Former President Hollande made a state visit to Australia in November 2014 in the lead-up to Australia hosting the G20 Summit.

After his short visit to Sydney, Mr Macron will travel to New Caledonia to rally support for the territory remaining part of France when residents go to a referendum in early November.

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