Taoiseach Brian Cowen has confirmed today that he has held talks with potential investors and promoters behind a multi-million euro international project aimed at attracting major Chinese investment to the midlands.

The project Mr Cowen is trying to bring to Athlone is reported to be a world trade centre type hub for Chinese industry - a project that would be built on a 600-acre site just east of Athlone and with the potential to create up to 10,000 jobs over five years.

The project is in its infancy but this afternoon Westmeath County Council will debate a proposal to re-zone hundreds of acres of land in an area known as Creggan on the Dublin side of Athlone. The Creggan area plan also provides for a new railway station and a new school in the area, alongside hundreds of apartments and factory units.

Some of the land for the project was bought in the last five years for over €50m.

Confirming that the Government was involved in the project this morning Mr Cowen said that Ireland is being looked at positively by international investors, and the Government will now work with potential investors to try and make this project come to fruition.