* Irish PM says nothing specific in agreement
* CIC more interested in infrastructure than govt debt
* Analysts say state assets likely to be of interest
By Padraic Halpin and Michael Martina
BEIJING/DUBLIN, March 27 (Reuters) - A subsidiary of China's sovereign wealth fund on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding with Dublin's debt agency to explore investment opportunities in Ireland, but gave little detail on what it might be interested in.
While Europe has been courting China to help prop up some of its indebted governments struggling to issue bonds, analysts said Beijing's $410 billion sovereign wealth fund would likely be more interested in buying Irish assets than Irish debt.
Ireland's National Treasury Management (NTMA) simply said the memorandum built on existing dialogue between it and China Investment Corp International (CIC) and would help identify suitable investment or co-investment opportunities in Ireland.
"There is nothing specific mentioned here, but it is an agreement signed between the NTMA and CIC, to explore a very broad spectrum of possibilities for investment," Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny added at a news conference towards the end of a four-day visit to China.
Ties between Ireland and China have progressed rapidly in the last 18 months and China's leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping chose Ireland as the only European stop of a trip that took in visits to the United States and Turkey last month.
"The memorandum signed today reflects our strong working relationship and shared commitment. It will be of valuable assistance for us in identifying and assessing potential opportunities in Ireland," CIC chairman Lou Jiwei said in a statement.
Lou said last month that CIC remained wary about investing in European government bonds despite pleas to do so, but would look for opportunities in infrastructure and real industrial projects.
It signed a deal with Poland's foreign investment body this month that could see it snap up Polish assets and Ireland too is looking to offload state assets having unveiled a final list of utilities to go on the block last month.
Ireland's National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), one of the worlds largest property groups, is also selling billions of euros worth of assets on behalf of the state which owns majority stakes in most of the country's banks.
With Ireland needing to return to bond markets in the coming 12 months to build up enough funds to exit its EU/IMF bailout next year, analysts could not rule out China buying Irish debt but said the agreement was more likely to facilitate an examination of some the country's assets.
"It is more likely to evaluate opportunities in strategic assets or alternatively investments in the predominantly state owned banking sector but clearly investment in Irish Government Bonds if/when the NTMA returns to primary markets can't be ruled out," Dublin-based Glas Securities said in a note
"Any understanding between China and Ireland on investment, regardless of where and when, can only be positive."