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Premier Calls for Greater UN Role in Iraq

The Chinese Government and its people fully understand the Iraqi people's desire for early restoration of peace and are ready to make a contribution to the reconstruction of Iraq, says Premier Wen Jiabao.

He was talking to the visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari who called on him on Friday during a four-day visit, which started on Thursday.

Wen said it is necessary to respect Iraqi independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He stressed the right of the Iraqi people to freely determine their own future and called for a greater role for the United Nations.

Wen also urged the international community to take an active part in the rehabilitation of Iraq.

He said the coming election, which is scheduled for January 30, is an important step in the Iraqis' political process and he welcomes the establishment of a broad-based and fully representative government.

Wen stressed that China has attached great importance to Sino-Iraqi relations and has already pledged US$25 million towards rebuilding efforts.

He said China will continue to give support to the Iraqi people.

The Iraqi foreign minister apprised Premier Wen Jiabao of the current situation in Iraq and said he admires China's fair stance towards his country.

He said Iraq and China have traditionally a good relationship and Iraq will stick to the one-China policy.

He said Iraq is very appreciative of China's assistance to the Iraqi people in political, material and humanitarian areas.

The foreign minister said he is ready to provide an equal opportunity for Chinese enterprises and business people in the construction of Iraq to boost the collaboration between the two countries.

Zebari, the highest-ranking representative of the interim Iraqi government to visit China since it was established in June also held talks with his counterpart Li Zhaoxing on the same day.

Li stressed that China is willing to shore up friendly co-operation between the two countries on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.

Zebari met with Chinese businessmen in Beijing on Thursday, urging Chinese companies to explore business opportunities in his country.

He told the entrepreneurs that Iraq was "desperate" for all kinds of products and needed to build infrastructure in areas ranging from transportation to communication, water resources and education.

The Iraqi people would like to co-operate with all companies from peace-loving nations, especially China, he said.

However, he admitted that Iraq is experiencing its "roughest period in history" and said that without a safe and secure environment, the prospects for the economy to recover are pessimistic.

He also encouraged foreign companies to set up branch offices in the major cities in south and north Iraq, saying that they should be able to expand their business presence through the whole country when the situation is stabilized.

(Xinhua News Agency December 25, 2004)


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