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China, Tanzania leaders sign multi-million-dollar deals

Chinese President Hu Jintao.
by Staff Writers
Dar Es Salaam (AFP) Feb 15, 2009
Chinese President Hu Jintao signed cooperation agreements with Tanzania worth more than 20 million dollars Sunday, covering agriculture, communications and technical cooperation.

The deals totaling 21.9 million dollars (17 million euros) were finalised after talks between Hu and his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaye Kikwete.

"It has been a great visit," said Kikwete, hailing the friendly ties between the two countries.

"China and Tanzania share a common position on many issues, particularly on global peace and development issues.

"We all want an early conclusion of the Doha Round of the WTO talks, which we regard as beneficial to most developing countries," he added in a reference to the World Trade Organization talks towards a new global free trade pact.

"At this period of global financial crisis Tanzania and many other developing countries look at China as a partner in solving our problems. It is our hope that China will be on our side."

Hu said that China had been "impressed by Tanzania's role in the search for peace and conflict resolution in neighbouring countries and throughout Africa," particularly during Kikwete's time as chairman of the African Union.

"China will continue working closely with Tanzania on many areas," he said.

Hu arrived here late Saturday on the third stop of a whirlwind African tour that has taken him to Mali and Senegal and that finishes on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius on Tuesday.

His official welcoming ceremony included a parade, while he saluted in a statement 45 years of "exemplary" ties with Tanzania.

Chief among the newly signed deals was a 17.5-million-dollar (13.6-million-euro) agricultural agreement. It was particularly important for Tanzania, where 80 percent of the population depends on farming.

"The funds will largely be used to finance investments in agriculture, especially providing loans to importers of agricultural machinery," Tanzanian presidential spokesman Salva Rweyemanu said.

China also inked a 4.4-million-dollar agreement to rehabilitate the state radio and television channels in the island of Zanzibar; and another to send Chinese volunteers to Tanzania to work in various fields including health.

Hu later inaugurated a 56-million-dollar, 60,000-seat sports complex, financed mostly by the Chinese government.

After their talks Kikwete also made it clear that Tanzania supported Beijing's one China policy and thanked Hu for China's continued economic support.

Beijing's One China policy is its view that Taiwan is a breakaway territory awaiting reunification. China has waged a diplomatic offensive to persuade other countries to withdraw their ambassadors from Taipei.

A Chinese embassy statement issued earlier quoted the president as praising the "sound and smooth way" the bilateral relationship had developed since ties were established in 1964.

"It can be viewed as an exemplary relationship of sincerity, solidarity and cooperation between China and an African country and between two developing countries," Hu said.

China is one of the top 10 investors in Tanzania, according to official figures. Trade between the two countries was worth 794 million dollars in 2007, 48.2 percent up on 2006.

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