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China eyes Iraq's oil

Press Esc
Sunday June 24, 2007

China is pushing to regain access to Iraq's oil reserves at discussions held Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who received a hamper of economic gifts on his first state visit to Beijing to meet his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi announced that China will offer a grant of RMB 50 million assistance to Iraq this year on the International Compact with Iraq held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt this May and largely reduce and write off the debt Iraqi owed to China.

China is also helping Iraq to train people specialized in economics, electricity, diplomacy and management while Chinese companies are have shown their willingness to participate in Iraq's economic reconstruction.

But a key topic on the agenda was the restoration of China National Oil Company's contracts signed with Iraq in 1997 that were abrogated after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Iraq expelled almost all major UK and US based oil companies 1972, and the companies were keen to get back into the country with second largest proven oil reserves.

Experts have speculated that pressure from American oil majors led Bush administration to go to war against Iraq, as Iraq's exiled opposition leader Ahmed Chalabi, who is now the oil minister, had already promised to Iraq's oil to these corporations.

Chalabi, who was convicted in absentia for embezzlement, fraud and currency-trading irregularities in 1992, has been the chief supporter of US efforts to push through a controversial hydrocarbon law which critics claim will give foreign companies control over Iraq's oil reserves for the next 30 years.

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