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    China, Iraq ink economic, military agreements during Abadi visit
    December 23, 2015, 5:51 am

    Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his Iraqi counterpart Haider Al-Abadi witness the signing of 5 agreements in Beijing on 22 December 2015 [Xinhua]

    Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his Iraqi counterpart Haider Al-Abadi witness the signing of 5 agreements in Beijing on 22 December 2015 [Xinhua]

    China and Iraq pledged to establish a long-term, stable energy partnership with a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on oil and gas on Tuesday.

    China is willing to increase energy cooperation with Iraq, including oilfield projects and refinery construction in the Middle Eastern country, said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Beijing.

    Abadi has asked for increased Chinese investment in “infrastructure building, oil, electric power and telecommunication”.

    They agreed a long-term and comprehensive strategic partnership on energy cooperation, especially in the oil and gas sector, would be established, a joint statement said on Tuesday.

    “More investment will be channelled to the energy sector and governments and enterprises will be encouraged to cooperate in the areas of crude oil trade, oil-gas exploration and development, oilfield engineering service technology, construction of storage and transportation facilities, chemical refining engineering, and energy equipment,” it said.

    China and Iraq inked five new agreements in the “economic, technological, military, diplomatic and energy fields” said a statement from the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office.

    The two prime ministers also reached a consensus on using China-made equipment to support oil-gas exploitation in Iraq, said China’s Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming after the agreements signing ceremony.

    Li and Abadi also witnessed the signing of an agreement on the promotion of China’s ambitious projects: the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

    The Silk Road connected China and Europe from around 100 B.C. The 4,000-mile road linked ancient Chinese, Indian, Babylonian, Arabic, Greek and Roman civilizations.

    Iraq is now officially on board joining China’s “One Belt, One Road” project. The Silk Road could be the second China-led project in recent months to attract a flurry of EU participation.

    In March this year, China’s President Xi Jinping said he hoped its annual trade with the countries involved in Beijing’s plan to create a modern Silk Road would surpass $2.5 trillion in a decade.

    Under the so-called “One Belt, One Road” initiative, China aims to create a modern Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to boost trade and extend its global influence.

    “Iraq is an important partner of China in the region,” Li told Abadi on Tuesday.

    China supports “Iraq’s economic reconstruction and will encourage competitive enterprises to participate in energy, electric power, telecommunication and infrastructure reconstruction projects in Iraq,” said the joint statement.

    Li also vowed that China will aid Iraq improve its production capacity in the areas of cement, steel, flat glass and engineering machinery.

    Li also urged Iraq would take effective measures to ensure the safety of Chinese companies and citizens in Iraq.

    “The fight against terrorism and efforts to confront Daesh (ISIS/ISIL)” figured heavily in talks between the Chinese President Xi Jinping and the visiting Iraqi Prime Minister.

    Abadi’s official visit to China from Tuesday to Wednesday is his first since taking office in September 2014.

    “The visit came at the right time and will help the strategic cooperation and aid our aim to establish strategic relations with Iraq,” Xi told Abadi according to the Iraqi PMO.

    “Our position is clear in respect of Iraqi sovereignty and taking the consent of the Iraqi government in the fight against terrorism,” said the Chinese President.

    Turkey on Sunday announced it would “continue” to pull its troops out of northern Iraq after US president Barack Obama urged president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to do so in order to de-escalate tensions with Baghdad.

    The Baghdad  government had earlier this month strongly criticized Turkey and the US for their commitment to send troops to battle the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in northern Iraq.

    “China is keen to expand its military and defense cooperation, training and building of the Iraqi military capabilities and the exchange of information and military industries, and we are ready to respond to support Iraq in these areas, as well as economic cooperation,” Xi told Abadi.

    Abadi and Xi agreed to activate the “Committee on the Iraqi-Chinese relations” and resume meetings in this format from March 2016.


    TBP and Agencies

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