Chinese President Hu Jintao signed agreements Monday with the visiting
president of Turkmenistan for the Central Asian nation to sell China natural gas
and to build a pipeline to deliver it.
The two governments didn't immediately release financial details or say
whether additional negotiations remained before pipeline construction and gas
sales might begin.
Hu signed the "general agreement on realization of construction of a
pipeline" with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, whose sparsely populated
desert nation has the second-biggest gas reserves of any former Soviet republic,
The agreement adds to a multibillion-dollar string of deals made by Beijing
to import oil and natural gas.
China is especially eager to secure deals to receive oil and gas from
neighboring countries by pipeline, whose fixed routes lock suppliers into a
relationship with Beijing and which Chinese leaders appear to regard as safer
than delivery by sea.
Neighboring Kazakhstan opened a pipeline to deliver oil to China in December.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his government would
build a pipeline to deliver gas to China and affirmed its commitment to building
a separate oil pipeline.
At a ceremony attended by Hu and Niyazov in the Great Hall of the People, the
seat of China's parliament, the two governments also signed an agreement for
Beijing to provide favorable loans to Turkmenistan, though no financial details
They also signed a joint pledge to crack down on terrorism and extremism ¡ª a
reference to radical Islamic groups.