China’s Ambassador to Iraq, Zhang Tao, said that the Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s upcoming visit to China will mark a new phase in the Iraqi-Chinese relations as it will promote mutual cooperation between the two countries in the upcoming period.

In an interview, Zhang confirmed China’s strong desire to contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq as Iraq is a partner in the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).

Abdul Mahdi, heading a large and high-ranking Iraqi delegation, will pay an official visit to China at the invitation of the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

“The visit of prime minister is the most important visit of Iraqi officials to China, especially after Iraq achieved great victories over the terrorists of Daesh (Islamic State), and the security situation is improving significantly, which increases Iraq’s opportunities for reconstruction,” Zhang said.

Zhang said the two countries are keen to consolidate their strategic relations through seeking to sign a joint agreement to establish broader cooperation mechanisms in various fields.

The bilateral cooperation will extend to electricity, water purification, construction of schools, hospitals, housing units, transportation projects, and the Chinese companies will participate in the areas that the Iraqi people urgently need, he pointed out.

Iraq is China’s largest economic partner and fourth-largest crude oil exporter, and the Chinese companies view Iraq as a promising and important market, the Ambassador highlighted.

Zhang said the visit shows special importance, as it coincides with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

The government, people and the companies of China are looking forward with care and attention for this important visit, according to Zhang, as “the two countries have complementary advantages.”

“Iraq, for example, needs Chinese funds, technology and cadres. In return, China needs energy from Iraq, so the cooperation between the two countries is complementary, as China can use its technical and technological advantages to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq,” he pointed out.

Zhang also said Iraq is a part of the BRI, and the cooperation between China and Iraq in the building of ports, railways and bridges will be included in the framework of BRI.

“It can be said that China and Iraq have common interests and foundations in promoting BRI,” he stressed.

The envoy added China will encourage more Chinese companies to enter Iraq and help with reconstruction and help Iraq to train its own personnel in various fields in order to overcome difficulties and challenges that Iraq faces.

He stressed that China firmly supports Iraq’s efforts to preserve its sovereignty, independence and unity.

“We hope that the Iraqi people will achieve continuous victories in defeating terrorism and achieving security and safety throughout Iraq,” he added.