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UPDATED: 08:33, March 12, 2007
Mauritania's presidential candidates hail ties with China
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The first presidential election in Mauritania after the 2005 military coup was kicked off Sunday, with two major candidates pledging to promote Mauritania- China relations if elected.

Zein Zeidane, former chief of the Mauritanian Central Bank, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview that the Sino-Mauritanian ties are quite "special" for Mauritanians.

"China takes up a unique place in our mind. If elected, I would like to strive to promote the relations with China," the 41-year- old man said.

Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdalahi, who is viewed by local analysts as one of the three high-profile candidates for the heated contest, with the other two being Ahmed Ould Daddah of the Assembly of Democratic Forces (RFD) and Zeidane, also hailed the development of the ties with China.

Abdalahi, having held several ministerial positions including the economy portfolio under previous administrations, said he himself was one of the eyewitnesses of the smooth development of the Mauritania-China ties since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations in July 1965.

"The friendly ties with China can be called a model. I, if elected, will continue the path of strengthening the bilateral relations with all my efforts," Abdalahi said after casting ballots in the Trevrak Zeina district of the capital Nouakchott.

Source: Xinhua

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