BEIJING — China and Iraq pledged to establish a long-term, stable energy partnership with a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on oil and gas on Dec 22.
China is willing to increase energy cooperation with Iraq, with projects such as oilfield exploitation and refinery construction in the Middle Eastern country, said Premier Li Keqiang during talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Beijing.
The two sides agreed that energy cooperation is an important part of Iraq-China pragmatic cooperation, according to a joint statement issued on Dec 22.
They agreed a long-term and comprehensive strategic partnership on energy cooperation, especially in the oil and gas sector, would be established, it said.
More investment will be channeled 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.
During their talks, the two prime ministers reached a consensus on using China-made equipment to support oil-gas exploitation in Iraq, said Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Ming after the cooperative agreement signing ceremony.
Premier Li and Abadi also witnessed the signing of a MoU on the promotion of the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
The two sides agreed to improve pragmatic cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative to achieve mutual benefit and win-win, according to the statement.
The Belt and Road Initiative will be a trade and infrastructure network that connects Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes.
“Iraq is an important partner of China in the region,” said Premier Li.
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 statement.
In their talks, Premier Li said China will help Iraq improve its production capacity in the areas of cement, steel, flat glass and engineering machinery.
The roots of poverty in the Middle East are a lack of infrastructure and the low level of industrialization, said Hua Liming, a research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies.
The Belt and Road Initiative will contribute to the peace and development of countries in the Middle East region, said Hua.
Premier Li also hoped Iraq would take effective measures to ensure the safety of Chinese companies and citizens in Iraq.
Abadi thanked China for supporting Iraq’s economic development and social stability.
Iraq is facing the pressing task of rebuilding its economy and improving people’s livelihood, he said, noting that Iraq was willing to enhance long-term cooperation with China in areas of infrastructure building, oil, electric power and telecommunication.
Iraq expects to further expand friendly cooperation with China and hopes China will increase investment to Iraq in those areas, he said.
Abadi is paying an official visit to China from Dec 22 to 23 at the invitation of Premier Li.