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China's premier signs trade, conservation agreements in Kenya

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang signed a string of economic deals with Kenya on Saturday on the final leg of a four-nation Africa tour that has underscored Beijing's growing ties with the continent.

NAIROBI: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang signed a string of economic deals with Kenya on Saturday on the final leg of a four-nation Africa tour that has underscored Beijing's growing ties with the continent.

After talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Li and his delegation signed off on 17 agreements that include provisions for economic cooperation grants, interest-free and concessional loans and assistance to build a new railway link from the Indian Ocean port city of Mombasa to Nairobi and rest of east Africa.

Wildlife conservation was also on the agenda, with Li keen to show official Chinese support for Kenya's efforts to combat the rampant poaching of elephants and rhino in the face of huge demand for ivory and rhino horns in Asia, particularly China.

One of the agreements covered the provision of equipment for Kenya's embattled anti-poaching force.

Speaking in a joint news conference, Kenyatta tanked China for its "continued support and cooperation in our effort to combat and eventually eliminate the illegal trade in ivory as well as in our other initiatives to preserve our natural heritage."

He also stressed "Asia and Africa's common struggles against imperialism and colonialism".

The Chinese official has been on a four-country tour of Africa, his first since taking office last year, with the world's second-biggest economy keen to boost its presence on the continent to find new markets and opportunities.

Li will also meet regional leaders on Sunday in Kenya, including Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Salva Kiir of war-torn South Sudan, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.

East African leaders have been looking to China for help to build a modern railway to link the Burundian capital Bujumbura, passing though Uganda and Rwanda, with a proposed branch line heading to South Sudan.

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