- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Hu Jintao begins 12-day Africa tour

YAOUNDE — Chinese President Hu Jintao began a 12-day tour of Africa yesterday, his third since coming to power in 2003, stepping up his country’s efforts to obtain a larger share of Africa’s oil and energy exports.

Mr. Hu began the eight-nation trip by approving grants and loans to Cameroon worth more than $54 million, national radio reported here. The accords for financial and infrastructure projects were signed by Mr. Hu and Cameroon President Paul Biya in a ceremony at the presidential palace here.

Mr. Biya urged China to invest in his country’s natural resources and increase imports of its basic commodities.

Mr. Hu’s tour reflects his country’s strong economic interest in Africa, where China seeks raw materials and energy reserves.


Bird-flu outbreak kills woman in capital

ABUJA — Health officials reported Nigeria’s first cases of bird flu in humans yesterday, saying one woman had died and a family member was infected but is responding to treatment.

The 22-year-old woman died Jan. 17 in Lagos, the nation’s largest city, Information Minister Frank Nweke said.

An outbreak of H5N1 bird flu began in Nigeria last year, but no human infections had been reported until yesterday. Egypt and Djibouti were the only African countries that had confirmed human infections this year, which have caused 11 deaths in Egypt.


Rift Valley fever kills more than 150 in week

PARIS — The world’s paramount agency for farm-animal health sounded the alarm yesterday over an outbreak of Rift Valley fever, a dangerous mosquito-borne disease, among livestock in East Africa.

The outbreak erupted in Kenya, where the human death toll this week was put at more than 150, and in southern Somalia, where, according to figures from the United Nations issued Jan. 19, at least 32 had died.

The World Organization for Animal Health said thousands of cattle, sheep, goats and camels have fallen sick and thousands more are in jeopardy. The viral disease could spread swiftly in Somalia, “a war-torn country already dealing with humanitarian emergencies,” the organization said.

Weekly notes …

All foreigners seeking to enter Libya will soon be required to obtain a visa, Interior Minister Salah Rajab said on the sidelines of a meeting of Arab ministers in Tunis yesterday. He gave no date for the requirement, which “will apply to all foreigners, including Arabs.” Heretofore, nationals of the four other Maghreb countries — Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia — plus Egypt had been exempt. … New York-based Human Rights Watch said yesterday that its study of one of Nigeria’s six oil-producing states found that officials squandered or stole public money. “Many state and local officials in Rivers [state] have squandered or stolen public money that could have gone toward providing vital health and education services,” said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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