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China pledges more assistance to Africa

China said on Friday President Hu Jintao would offer more aid to African countries during his visit to the continent next week, and work with them to fight the global economic crisis.

world Updated: Feb 06, 2009 10:35 IST

China said on Friday President Hu Jintao would offer more aid to African countries during his visit to the continent next week, and work with them to fight the global economic crisis.

"President Hu Jintao will discuss economic cooperation and trade with the countries he will visit in Africa, and we will also offer fresh assistance to African countries," assistant foreign minister Zhai Jun told reporters.

"But the details are still being worked out."

Hu departs on a one-week trip to Mali, Senegal, Tanzania, Mauritius and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday -- his first overseas trip of 2009, and his fourth to the African continent since he came to power in 2003.

Zhai said China was confident of meeting a pledge it made to double aid to Africa in the three years to 2009.

"I'm sure we'll be able to meet that target at the end of this year," Zhai said. China has never publicised exactly how much aid this entails.

At a summit in Beijing in 2006, China pledged to double its aid to Africa over three years, while delivering five billion dollars in loans and credits.

It also cancelled an unspecified amount of debt for some of the continent's poorest countries.

China has in recent years worked hard to develop closer partnerships with African nations and Saudi Arabia, the world's leading oil producer, as its demand for energy has sky-rocketed.

Zhai said that energy documents with Saudi Arabia might be signed if "negotiations go well," although he would not elaborate on whether the heads of top oil companies in China were accompanying Hu on his trip.

Saudi Arabia is the first leg of Hu's trip.

But Zhai stressed energy was not a priority in Hu's visit to the four African countries.

"The four African countries are not countries with a lot of energy or mineral resources, therefore our relationship with African countries is not only a relationship about energy or resources," Zhai said.

He highlighted that China stood ready to work more closely with Africa and Saudi Arabia in the face of the global economic crisis.

"Developing countries, including China, Saudi Arabia and African countries are facing greater challenges," he said.

"China... stands ready to enhance cooperation and coordinate actions with developing countries and the international community to overcome difficulties."