Sudan has granted its main ally and oil buyer China more oil exploration rights as both countries seek to boost ties, Sudan's foreign minister said.

On Monday, Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi visited Khartoum in the first high-level visit of a Chinese official since South Sudan became independent last month during which he assured continued support.

"(Sudan's) President (Omar Hassan) al-Bashir told the Chinese minister that Chinese firm (China National Petroleum Corp) CNPC will be granted the right to explore oil in three new blocs," Sudan's foreign minister Ali Ahmed Karti told reporters late on Monday.

He spoke after Yang had met Bashir before leaving on Tuesday for talks in the southern capital Juba.

Karti said China has committed itself to develop more than one new oil field in Sudan, without giving details.

China, which has been aggressively pursuing natural resources in Africa, has maintained close ties with Sudan throughout a U.S. trade embargo. North Sudan was the sixth-largest source of Chinese oil imports in 2010.

Most Sudanese oil is located in South Sudan, but exports to China and elsewhere have to pass through pipelines and a seaport located in the north, which gives export customers an incentive to promote good relations between the two Sudans.

President Bashir has been shunned by Western countries since being indicted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague for war crimes and genocide. China opposes the indictment.