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Last Updated: Monday, 24 April 2006, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Chinese leader begins Africa tour
China's President Hu is greeted by Morocco's King Mohammed VI
President Hu in Morocco. He is keen to build trade ties in Africa
President Hu Jintao of China has begun a week-long visit to Africa - his second tour of the continent since becoming leader three years ago.

The trip has started in Morocco where the president will sign a number of trade deals with King Mohammed VI.

President Hu will also visit Kenya and make a return trip to Nigeria, which he visited in 2004 - a tour that also included Gabon and Algeria.

Mr Hu comes fresh from meetings in the United States and Saudi Arabia.

The visit indicates the importance China is attaching to securing energy and trade deals in the region, says the BBC's David Bamford.

Mr Hu's message will be that China and Africa have become natural partners.

China has an expanding economy eager for oil, gas, cotton, cobalt and timber while Africa has plentiful natural resources but needs help to exploit them, our correspondent says.


President Hu's visit comes in the wake of a series of others by Chinese ministers and officials.

They have been criss-crossing the continent from Egypt and Algeria to South Africa and Zambia to set up or sign deals.

The most that can be expected from co-operation with China is a more efficient extraction of raw materials
Leslie Farkas

Trade and oil will top Mr Hu's agenda.

In Nigeria, a $2 billion deal has just been approved under which China's offshore oil corporation will take a 45% stake in an offshore oilfield.

In Kenya, China is a major player in electrifying the country.

Many Africans welcome the Chinese approach of doing business and not pegging economic activity to political conditions in African countries, our correspondent says.

Western human rights groups have expressed concern that China is providing a shield against international efforts to persuade corrupt or abusive regimes to reform.

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