- Title: CHINA: Iraqi President visits China for the first time in 49 years
- Date: 21st June 2007
- Summary: VARIOUS OF OFFICIALS TOASTING (2 SHOTS)
- Embargoed: 6th July 2007 13:00
- Location: China
- Country: China
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVAB9QHC3PCJMM1LG9FEJ0BDK5EW
- Story Text: Iraqi President Jalal Talabani meets Chinese President Hu Jintao during his stay in China, the first such visit in 49 years. The meeting comes as China cancels debt owed by Iraq.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday (June 21) in Beijing, the first time an Iraqi president has visited China during the two nations' 49-years of diplomatic relations.
Talabani arrived on Wednesday (June 20) for a week-long tour in China during which the two leaders will discuss Chinese aid to Iraq.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang said that China was ready to help Iraq rebuild its war-shattered economy by donating money, reducing or forgiving its debt and helping to train its people.
Speaking at a news conference earlier on Thursday, Qin Gang said China donated 50 million yuan (6.56 million U.S. dollars) of aid to Iraq in May, but he did not say how much debt Iraq owed China.
Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai signed an agreement with Iraqi officials to cancel the debt owed to the Chinese government. No details were provided.
Energy cooperation is also at the top of the agenda for the two countries, Iraq's Oil Minister is among the visiting delegates.
Iraq's central government and the authorities in the autonomous region of Kurdistan have resolved disputes that had been holding up progress of a draft oil law, the Iraqi Oil Ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
Asim Jihad told Reuters the draft had been submitted to parliament, adding he expected lawmakers to debate the legislation in the next few days.
If the oil bill is passed, it will regulate Iraq's domestic oil industry, potentially allowing foreign countries to invest in Iraq's domestic oil industry freely. China is among the countries that are interested in the sector.
Talabani will also meet China's Premier Wen Jiabao and top legislator Wu Bangguo during his visit.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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