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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 16:57 GMT
China's leader begins Africa tour
Chinese President Hu Jintao
President Hu is to sign a number of agreements while in Africa
China's President Hu Jintao is in Cameroon at the start of a 12-day tour of Africa, aimed at strengthening economic and political ties.

Mr Hu met Cameroonian counterpart Paul Biya and signed a series of bilateral co-operation agreements.

Trade has expanded dramatically between Africa and China in recent years as China seeks resources to feed its economy and markets for its exports.

It is Mr Hu's third trip to Africa since he took office in 2003.

He is expected to inspect projects already carried out by his country in Cameroon, visiting a sports ground being built by a Chinese firm and a hospital funded by China.

Trade between the two countries doubled in 2006 from the previous year, reaching $338m (172m), according to China's ambassador to Yaounde.

Big oil customer

Before he left, China announced $3bn (1.5bn) in preferential loans and more aid over the next three years for Africa.

If China wants to establish credibility, it has to use its influence to stop the slaughter in Darfur
David Little, Belgium

Africa supplies one-third of China's imported oil.

China has been urged to use its influence as a big oil customer of Sudan's to lobby the government in Khartoum to resolve the conflict in Darfur.

Beijing has been criticised for selling weapons to countries like Zimbabwe and flooding Africa with cheap goods that threaten local industries.

Mr Hu's tour will also take him to Liberia, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique and Seychelles.

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