* Two major railways among 34 planned deals
* Deals come as Mali in new talks with IMF
BAMAKO, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Mali has signed a string of agreements with China totalling about $11 billion, most of it intended to finance two major railway projects linking the land-locked country to the coast, Mali’s presidency said.
Mali gave few details on the terms of the 34 agreements but said they included some loans. They coincide with fresh talks with the International Monetary Fund to review a programme for Mali and resume aid payments to halted this year.
The IMF and World Bank froze nearly $70 million in financing after the Fund expressed concern in May over Mali’s purchase of a $40 million presidential jet and a loan for military supplies, deals that undermined donor confidence in the commitment of Mali’s new government to rebuild the country after a coup and an uprising in 2012.
The agreements were signed during a four-day visit by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to China from Sept. 9 to 13 for the World Economic Forum in Tianjin, according to a statement published on the website of Mali’s presidency.
The biggest of the planned projects is an $8 billion, 900-km (560-mile) railway linking Mali’s capital Bamako to Guinea’s port capital Conakry.
Another 750 billion CFA francs ($1.48 billion) would be used to renovate the Bamako-Dakar railway, linking Mali to the Senegalese capital to the west.
Other projects include the construction of a fourth bridge across the Niger river in Bamako and the construction of roads, especially in the north of the country, which was seized by a mix of separatist and al Qaeda-linked rebels in 2012.
French troops were scrambled to scatter the Islamist fighters, and a U.N. peacekeeping mission has since deployed. But slow progress has left Keita struggling to retain the popular support that swept him to power last year.
The website statement also lists planned housing, energy and education projects.
The $11 billion includes $51 million in gifts and interest-free loans from China announced by the government on Friday.
Mali secured over $4 billion in donor pledges last year.
1 US dollar = 506.6500 CFA francs Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by David Lewis/Ruth PItchford
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