Argentina's Kirchner focuses on China deals amid arrest warrant scandal at home

BEIJING (AFP) - Embattled Argentine President Cristina Kirchner sought to keep the focus on a string of deals with China during a visit to Beijing Wednesday as she became embroiled deeper in a high-profile scandal at home.

Kirchner met with Chinese President Xi Jinping as it emerged that Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman had drafted an arrest warrant for her before his death in mysterious circumstances.

After signing 15 agreements, the pair discussed at length a series of projects the two countries are collaborating on including dams, railways and nuclear plants.

"We believe in Argentina we'll have an unbeatable opportunity to learn from their scientists, technicians," Kirchner said, referring to a deal on space technology.

This is the second time the two leaders have met in the past year after Xi visited Argentina during a trip to Latin America last summer designed to boost China's economic ties with the continent.

China has a total of US$23 billion (S$30 billion) invested in Argentina, mostly in energy, mining, the financial sector and agriculture.

Kirchner said she had been determined to make the trip, despite being advised not to travel by doctors as she was still recovering from breaking her ankle.

The Argentinian president arrived in China on Tuesday as prosecutor Viviana Fein admitted a 26-page warrant for Kirchner's arrest, dated June 14, 2014, was discovered after Nisman's death from a gunshot wound.

Nisman, 51, died on the eve of an appearance before Argentine lawmakers in which he was expected to accuse Kirchner of mounting a cover-up over the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre which left 85 people dead and 300 wounded.

It was the worst terror strike on Argentina's soil in its modern history.

In a criminal probe released four days before his death, Nisman alleged Kirchner and other officials had struck a deal with Iran aimed at shielding Teheran officials linked to the 1994 bombing in exchange for lucrative trade agreements.

Kirchner has not yet responded to the discovery of the draft warrant.

The Argentine leader will conclude her trip to Beijing on Thursday.

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