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ISIS, Chinese investment in focus as Iraqi PM heads to China
December 21, 2015, 5:56 am

File photo of Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi [Image: pmo.iq]

File photo of Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi [Image: pmo.iq]

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi will be on an official two-day visit to China that begins on Tuesday.

Abadi will hold talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. Talks between the leaders are expected to focus on the fight against Islamic State as well as bilateral ties between China and Iraq. Abadi has said he will ask for increased Chinese investment to rebuild the country.

Over the past year Iraq has received weapons systems from China, Russia and Iran. China is the top foreign player in Iraq’s oilfields, which are the largest in the Middle East open to foreign investment.

Ahead of his trip to Beijing, Abadi said that his country is working on deepening relations with China, saying “we are seeking to promote such relations in all aspects, in particular in investment and rebuilding infrastructure.”

Wars, looting, insurgency and a protracted fight with the Islamic State has left Iraq’s infrastructure in ruins. Twin shocks of low oil prices and increased defence spending has hit the Iraqi economy.

The Iraqi Premier has said it is in the interests of both the Chinese and Iraqi people “to build mutual relations in the economic, commercial, financial and military fields, and even in the social aspects”.

“Firstly, the oil sector which is vital to Iraq and we are looking forward to increasing our oil production and exports, and I believe that China can contribute in this field,” he said in an interview to Chinese agency Xinhua in Baghdad.

“Secondly, investment in infrastructure as Iraqis are looking forward for such investment as to be further sources of funding other than oil. And I believe China has great abilities to invest in Iraq which has oil that can be a guarantee to any investment in Iraq,” Abadi said. Iraq’s state finances are heavily dependent on oil revenues, which have sunk as oil prices have plunged.

“Thirdly, the military field as Iraq is in war condition and we hope for further military cooperation with China,” Abadi added.

Last week, the World Bank said it would lend Iraq $1.2 billion in emergency support to help it deal with the economic effects of its fight against Islamic State militants and low oil prices.

State-run China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China’s biggest oil and gas producer, has three projects in Iraq, in the south and southeast of the country.

Fighting terror

The fight against terrorism in the Middle East is expected to figure heavily in talks between Abadi and the Chinese leadership in Beijing.

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.

The office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi had called on Turkey to immediately withdraw its troops from the northern part of the country.

“We hope the UN Security Council would issue a resolution calling Turkey to withdraw from Iraqi territory… we also called on Arab League (AL) to hold a session on the level of foreign ministers to take a resolution in this respect,” Abadi said on Saturday.

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.

Abadi has also lashed out at the Obama administration for its proposed deployment of special forces – part of an expeditionary force – to Iraq and Syria to fight the Islamic State.

Abadi called the US plan a “hostile act of aggression” and a “breach of Iraq’s sovereignty”.

The Iraqi Prime Minister has also said the US-led coalition’s fighting against the Islamic State “was not at the level of our ambition, we hoped fast and direct support, but it was slow and not as we wanted”.

Abadi also described the latest Saudi Arabia’s announcement to form a 34-state Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism, as a “unreal” and “strategic mistake.”

“We, the government of Iraq has regular forces and volunteers to fight Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) on the ground, there is also in Syria a coalition fighting against Daesh and other terrorist groups, but we haven’t been consulted nor informed in such matter,” Abadi said.

“I think it is incorrect and unreal gathering. We welcome the presence of all states to fight Daesh… but it is an essential and strategic error to form a coalition without the participation of real powers which fight Daesh in Iraq and Syria,” Abadi stressed.

 

TBP and Agencies

 

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