China's president heading to Middle East

President Hu Jintao is heading to Saudi Arabia and Africa immediately following his visit to the United States later this month, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Hu will visit Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, from April 22 to 24, where he will make a speech to the kingdom's Consultative Council, its version of parliament, said ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao.

The visit comes as China aggressively courts the world's major oil suppliers as it seeks new oil and gas deposits to fuel its power-hungry economy.

Then he will travel to Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya between April 24-28. In Nigeria, he is expected to make a speech addressing China's ties with the country as well as with all of Africa.

Hu's visit "will be very helpful in ... cooperation in various fields, including energy, culture and personal exchanges," Liu said.

Talks on energy cooperation are expected to be among the main issues, particularly in oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.

However Liu said that energy won't be the only major topic the president raises in these visits.

"I believe that energy cooperation is an important part of the cooperation between China and these other countries but it is not the only part," he said.

Hu will be in Morocco April 24-26, then Nigeria April 26-27 before wrapping up in Kenya April 27-28, reports the AP.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team