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Iraqi PM calls for closer ties with China

During the Arab-China Summit in Riyadh, Muhammad Shia al-Sudani expressed Iraq's willingness to join the Belt and Road Initiative and expand ties and relationship with China.
Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Riyadh, Dec. 9, 2022.

Iraqi prime minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani called on Friday for strengthening relations between Arab states and China during the regional summit with Chinese president Xi Jinping.

At the event in Riyadh, Sudani asked China to assume a key role in the economic development of the entire region, which he said needs Chinese expertise and technologies in various fields — "particularly in combating poverty and epidemics, agriculture development in salt water, and efforts to combat desertification.” 

Sudani said his country is looking forward to joining the Belt and Road Initiative and other investment, energy, and infrastructure projects.

During his meeting with Xi, “the Prime Minister affirmed Iraq's willingness to benefit from Chinese expertise in various fields and the desire to enhance its partnership with China within the Belt and Road Initiative and in the areas of infrastructure,” according to Iraqi PM media office. Xi, according to the release, welcomed the chance for more bilateral cooperation and reiterated "his country's support for Iraq's security, stability, and sovereignty.”

Sudani is continuing the stance of his predecessor, Adel Abdul Mahdi, in establishing a strategic relationship with Beijing. The former Iraqi prime minister traveled to China in 2019 and signed various memorandums of understanding, but none of them were implemented due to the unrest in Iraq in 2019 and 2020.

His successor, Mustafa Kadhimi, showed less enthusiasm toward ties with China. Instead, Kadhimi moved the relationship closer to western powers including the United States and France.

During the last few years, Chinese companies obtained more influence on Iraqi oilfields following the withdrawal of western companies.

Sudan's participation in the Riyadh summit seeks to build on China's influence both in Iraq and regionally. 

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