China, Argentina sign agricultural accords

Top agricultural exporter Argentina signed a raft of mostly farm-related agreements with China on Monday at a ceremony in Buenos Aires attended by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his Argentine counterpart Cristina Kirchner.

The Asian powerhouse is Argentina's biggest taker of agricultural products and its second largest trade partner. Trade between the two states totaled $14.8 billion in 2011, $8 billion in China's favor.

Argentina is the world's number one exporter of flour and soy oil, number three soy bean exporter, and number two corn exporter.

The two delegations also signed a nuclear energy cooperation accord and agreed on the terms of a Chinese loan to modernize Argentina's Belgrano Cargas railway network, officials said.

Argentina has three nuclear plants, the last inaugurated in September 2011, and has plans for a fourth.

During Wen's visit, Argentina also hoped to draw Chinese investments in its oil industry, after having expropriating Spanish oil company Repsol's controlling share of YPF, Argentina's largest oil company.

At a ceremony Sunday in a museum opposite the presidential mansion, Wen hailed 40 years of bilateral ties as an "important milestone" and praised the "deepening friendship and trust" between Buenos Aires and Beijing.

Kirchner said China had played a "paramount" role in fueling global growth over the past 10 years.

She also stressed that both countries have a "common vision on defending territorial integrity" and acknowledged China's support for Argentina's claim to the disputed Falkland Islands, which are administered by Britain.

Wen has already stopped in Brazil and Uruguay during a four-nation tour of Latin America that wraps up later this week in Chile.

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