Colombia's Santos says China 'interested' in pipeline

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Wednesday China was "very interested" in investing in a pipeline going through his country, as Beijing seeks to secure more oil to fuel its economy.

Santos is currently on a trip to China -- the second biggest market for Colombian exports, mainly in oil and coal -- to promote trade and investment in the South American country and met his counterpart Hu Jintao earlier Wednesday.

"There is an enormous interest from the government as well as from the companies we met with earlier today, in investing in specific projects like the pipeline linking Venezuela with the Pacific Ocean," he told reporters.

"The Chinese government is very interested in this project. The president himself said so, and so did several of the businessmen."

The proposed pipeline will run from Venezuela to Colombia's Pacific coast, allowing for the quicker transport of oil to Asia, and particularly to energy-hungry China, the world's second-biggest oil consumer.

Santos and Hu oversaw several deal signings, including an agreement by China's state-owned petrochemical firm Sinochem and the China Development Bank with Colombia's oil giant Ecopetrol to look into helping build the pipeline.

China has made a huge foray into Latin America, investing in everything from agriculture to railways while satisfying its need for oil and other raw materials to fuel its booming economy.

Santos said there had also been Chinese interest "in participating in the project of building a railway in Colombia that would also link the Llanos Orientales with the Pacific Ocean, and even Venezuela with the Pacific Ocean."

The Llanos Orientales is an oil-rich region in eastern Colombia.

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