Hu Eyes Oil as Iraqi PM Sees Chinese Investments During Trade Talks

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Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has met with Chinese leader Hu Jintao for bilateral trade talks during his visit to China. While the Chinese leader's eyes are on Iraqi oil, Maliki is eying Chinese investments to redevelop war-ravaged Iraq.

Chinese leader Hu Jintao welcomed Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki Tuesday when they met for talks in Beijing to enhance bilateral trade and economic ties.

His first official China visit, Maliki is openly seeking Chinese investments to rebuild his war-devastated country.

Maliki informed Hu of his hopes to foster Sino-Iraqi cooperation, and to develop economic, political, scientific, and cultural partnerships with the Chinese regime.

A number of huge deals with Chinese oil companies were cancelled in 2003 after the downfall of former leader Saddam Hussein. Steps have been undertaken to re-establish the trade ties. Iraq was China's seventh largest oil supplier last year.

[Ali al-Dabbagh, Iraqi Government Spokesman]:
"We want to increase the trade volume between Iraq and China. China has entered in the energy sector in Iraq and I think they are doing well. China [has a] need for the oil in the future and it is a big consumer market in energy, oil, and gas, and Iraq would be the potential country which could supply China with that demand."

Iraq needs about $36 billion U.S. dollars to finance strategic and construction projects. This includes the reconstruction of railways, ports, schools, and other projects, which Chinese investments might be able to supply.

[Ali al-Dabbagh, Iraqi Government Spokesman]:
"We have a shortage of funds right now, but for sure in the upcoming five years, we'll increase our oil export and have a good revenue, so that we can finance whatever debt that arises from such on-time payments."

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