Ivory Coast looks to China for support

March 29, 2013 at 10:35 AM

DURBAN, South Africa, March 29 (UPI) -- African countries like Ivory Coast need the support of the Chinese government to advance economic and political goals, the Ivorian president said.

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara met with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the BRICS forum in Durban, South Africa.

Ouattara was part of a 10-member African delegation that met the Chinese president. He said West African nations like his need to count China as a reliable regional partner.

Ouattara said talks were "fruitful" with the "with the Chinese leader who seemed to understand the challenges of African countries," China's official Xinhua news agency reports.

The United Nations this week said it was reinforcing its peacekeeping role in Ivory Coast because of militancy on the border with Liberia.

Bert Koenders, U.N. special envoy for Ivory Coast, told members of the Security Council that 2013 was "a critical year" for the country given regional tensions in Mali and elsewhere in the region.

Ivory Coast approached the brink of civil war following contested presidential elections in 2010. Former President Laurent Gbagbo is on trail at The Hague for war crimes, though rights group say both sides likely committed crimes during the post-election violence.

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