KAMPALA, Nov 29 (Reuters) - China has said it wants to build roads
and railways in Uganda, where the Asian giant has already been rapidly expanding its economic footprint in recent years, according to the office of the Ugandan president.
In a statement, it said Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie made remarks to that effect during a meeting with President Yoweri Museveni at the start on Sunday of a five-day visit to the east African nation.
'The visiting Chinese Defence Minister said that Chinese companies would be interested in the construction of railways and roads in Uganda,' said the statement.
Over the last five years, China has funnelled hundreds of million of dollars into development of transport and communications infrastructure and construction of gleaming public offices in Uganda.
Two prominent projects have been the funding of construction of a $93 million state house villa in 2007 and a toll road connecting the capital Kampala and Entebbe, the country's international airport.
Chinese petroleum firm Cnooc, alongside France's Total are awaiting government approval of their proposed partnership with London-listed explorer Tullow Oil , in its fields in the country's nascent oil sector.
Upon approval, the partnership is expected to unlock a $10 billion investment to start production in the Albertine basin in the west of the country, where oil was discovered in 2006.
'We look forward to having more trade with China. Uganda always welcomes support from China,' the presidency statement quoted Museveni as telling Guanglie.
Although commercial ties with China have been expanding, Ugandan businessmen sometimes complain about a swelling number of Chinese in the country whom they accuse of too much competition when they engage in small businesses.
A local paper, the Daily Monitor, on Wednesday quoted Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi hailing China for its support in fighting Islamist militants in Somalia in a meeting with Guanglie on Monday.
'China has been instrumental in giving direct support to Uganda in the war on terror in Somalia,' the paper quoted Mbabazi as saying.
Uganda forms the backbone of the African Union's AMISOM peacekeeping force that is shoring up the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu against Islamist al Shabaab rebels.
(Editing by Duncan Miriri and Mark Heinrich) Keywords: UGANDA DIPLOMACY/
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