Oil likely to top China-Iraq talks

Seven Iraqi ministries are represented in Jalal Talabani's delegation to China

    Talabani, right, is the first Iraqi president to visit
    China since diplomatic ties were established [EPA]
    China has been looking to increase its ties with Middle East countries to feed its massive fuel needs. Nearly 60 per cent of China's oil is imported from the region and trade is worth more than $50bn.

    Good relationship

    Dr Fuqiang Yang, of the Beijing-based Energy Foundation, told Al Jazeera: "China of course has a really good relationship with every country in the Middle East ... their international policy is to try to develop a relationship with other countries if they don't have any major political conflict."

    "China has always been supportive
    and has participated in the rebuilding of Iraq"

    Qin Gang,
    Chinese foreign ministry spokesman

    Talabani's delegation, which represents seven Iraqi ministries, including finance, interior and oil, will meet Hu Jintao, China's president, and senior other officials.

    Although oil is expected to dominate the talks, Iraq's immediate concern will be securing funding for major reconstruction projects. 

    Shortly after Talabani arrived for his week-long trip, Beijing announced that it will forgive debt owed to the Chinese government by Iraq and pledged to help rebuild the country's economy.

    "China has always been supportive and has participated in the rebuilding of Iraq," Qin Gang, foreign ministry spokesman, said.
    "We will reduce or forgive Iraq's debt on a large scale, and help it to train people in the fields of economics, electrical power, diplomacy and management."

    Qin did not specify the amount of debt that was being cancelled. 

    China's foreign ministry has previously said that education and health co-operation deals would also be signed during the visit.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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