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China's Xi Woos Latin America with $250 Bln Investments

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged on Thursday $250 billion in investment in Latin America over the next 10 years as part of a drive to boost resource-hungry China's influence in a region long dominated by the United States.

Leaders of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC - a 33-country bloc that does not include the United States or Canada - gathered in Beijing for the first time for a two-day forum on Thursday.

Xi said two-way trade between China and Latin America was expected to rise to $500 billion in 10 years.

"This meeting will give the world a positive signal about deepening cooperation between China and Latin America and have an important and far-reaching impact on promoting South-South cooperation and prosperity for the world," Xi said.

Matt Ferchen, resident scholar at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, said China's push would not alarm Washington with improving U.S.-Cuba ties set to boost U.S. influence.

China, the world's second-largest economy, is buying oil from Venezuela, copper from Peru and Chile, and soybean from Argentina and Brazil.

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