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China, Cameroon Sign Economic Agreements

China has signed a series of economic agreements with Cameroon, giving the African country more than $54 million in loans.

The deals were signed Wednesday as Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Cameroon's President Paul Biya in the capital, Yaounde.

Under terms of the agreements, China will provide Cameroon with loans of about $9 million for economic and technical projects, and $45 million for telecommunication projects.

President Hu also canceled Cameroon's debt to China, the amount of which was not revealed.

President Biya urged Chinese companies to invest in Cameroon's energy, mineral and timber industries.

President Hu's visit to Cameroon is the start of an eight-nation tour of Africa. China is seeking to strengthen its ties on the continent, as part of efforts to secure more markets and natural resources for its economy.

President Hu heads next to Liberia. He also will make stops in Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique and the Seychelles. This trip is his third to Africa since taking office in 2003.

Chinese state media say the president will use the 12-day tour to carry out aid pledges made to African leaders at a summit in Beijing in November.

Human rights groups complain that Beijing is not using its influence in countries such as Sudan and Zimbabwe to demand an end to human rights violations and corruption.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.