April 29, 2006

Hu takes in Kenyan sights as tour ends

By Katie Nguyen

LARI, Kenya (Reuters) - Chinese President Hu Jintao on
Saturday swapped his suit and tie for casual trousers and
binoculars in Kenya, the last day of a grueling three-continent
tour cementing Beijing's global clout.

The Chinese leader made a brief stop to a viewpoint
overlooking Kenya's famed Rift Valley in his first spot of
sightseeing since embarking on the five-nation tour 10 days

Singing women villagers swathed in shawls and headscarves
welcomed Hu and his wife, Liu Yongqing, to the spot some 50 km
(35 miles) northwest of Nairobi.

As Hu viewed the mist-shrouded valley, his wife and other
delegation members browsed at stalls selling soapstone
candlesticks, giraffe carvings and fly-whisks made from

Looking relaxed and smiling, Hu received gifts of a
brightly colored Maasai blanket and wooden buffalo.

Chinese officials said it was his only break during a tour
which saw him secure oil deals in Africa, offer to help bring
stability in the Middle East and reassure Washington that
China's rapid development was not a threat to the superpower.

Chinese delegation spokesman Liu Jianchao said the trip had
been a success, but insisted there was more to it than snapping
up new energy sources to feed China's roaring economy.

"This trip is not only energy orientated, it's also aimed
at promoting political relations with China and the relevant
countries," he told reporters late on Friday.

"They see China as a good opportunity for furthering their
own interests," he added.

Kenyan officials predicted a boon for a tourist industry
hoping to tap into the lucrative Chinese market after lean
years following U.S. and British travel advisories recommending
their citizens to avoid the east African country.

"Right now we're targeting the Far East," Tourism Minister
Morris Dzoro told Reuters. "This trip is very important, it's
good publicity."