Nigeria rolled out the red carpet yesterday to welcome President Hu Jintao, who continued his diplomatic tour with a two-day state visit to the African nation.
Hu was scheduled to hold talks with his counterpart Olusegun Obasanjo late yesterday local time in the capital Abuja and meet with senior legislators today.
Agreements are to be signed on economic and medical co-operation as well as China's economic aid to Nigeria following the two leaders' talks.
In a written statement delivered upon arrival at the airport, Hu said he is expecting to exchange in-depth views with Obasanjo on furthering bilateral relations and international and regional issues of common concern.
Hu is scheduled today to address a joint session of the National Assembly, which is made up of 109 senators and 360 representatives, on Sino-African relations and China's policy on Africa.
Nigeria says Hu's visit will help further promote peace and harmonious development in the world. A statement signed by Monima Daminabo, the National Assembly's director of information, described Hu's visit as "very significant."
Nigeria is the largest oil producer in the African continent and ranks sixth in the world in oil exports. Analysts expect Hu's trip to Nigeria will help push for a bilateral partnership in the energy field.
Last week, China's top offshore oil and gas producer China National Offshore Oil Corp Limited completed a deal to buy a share of a Nigerian oil mining licence in its biggest-ever overseas acquisition.
The deal comes nine months after PetroChina International and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation signed an oil supply pact in which the Nigerian company agreed to sell 30,000 barrels of crude a day to PetroChina.
Since diplomatic ties were established in 1971, the two countries have witnessed fruitful partnership in such fields as agriculture, infrastructure construction, power generation and telecommunications.
Sino-Nigerian trade hit US$2.83 billion in 2005, up 29.6 per cent year-on-year, according to Foreign Ministry statistics. The two countries have also carried out effective co-operation in counter-terrorism and peacekeeping activities.
Hu flew to Abuja from Rabat after concluding a state visit to Morocco.
During meeting with Moroccan Prime Minister Driss Jettou, he suggested the two countries expand bilateral trade and investment co-operation and push forward project engineering covering Morocco's infrastructural projects and promote tourism co-operation.
Hu's current trip to Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya is the second time he has visited Africa in the past three years. He paid a state visit to Egypt, Gabon and Algeria in 2004 after he took office in 2003.
(China Daily 04/27/2006 page2)