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President Hu's Four-nation Tour Event-packed: FM

President Hu Jintao's upcoming four-nation tour will be the first important foreign visit for Chinese leaders in 2004, officials with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in Beijing Monday.


Hu will pay a state visit to France, Egypt, Gabon and Algeria from Jan. 26 to Feb. 4 at the invitation of French President Jacques Chirac, Egyptian President Muhammed Hosni Mubarak, Gabonese President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.


Liu Haixing, deputy director of the ministry's Department of West European Affairs, said the Chinese president's France tour from Jan. 26 to 29 will coincide with the China Year in France. Hu is expected to attend some events of the year-long cultural exchange program.


Hu will address the national assembly, the first such arrangement made by a Chinese leader in the French parliament. The two sides are expected to sign deals on the manufacture of DVD players and TV sets, glass production and atomic energy, Liu said.


No agreement will be inked yet for the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail system because the project is still "in the early feasibility study period," Liu said.


On Hu's Egypt trip between Jan. 29 to Feb. 1, the two countries are expected to sign documents on economic and technological cooperation, China's preferential loans to Egypt and investment memoranda on a special economic zone in the Suez gulf, said Zhai Jun, director of the ministry's Department of West Asian and North African Affairs.


Hu's Gabon trip, between Feb. 1 to 3, is the first visit of a Chinese president to the country in the three decades since the two countries forged diplomatic ties.


Hu will address the Gabonese parliament and expound China's policy on developing and strengthening ties with Africa, said Zhao Jiangping, counselor of the ministry's Department of African Affairs.


"The two countries will discuss possibilities for energy cooperation," Zhao said.


China and Algeria will sign agreements on economic and technological cooperation and higher education during Hu's visit to the country from Feb. 3 to 4, said Zhai Jun, adding that China may also ink an energy cooperation deal with Algeria during the visit.


(Xinhua News Agency January 20, 2004)

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