President Xi Jinping appealed on Monday to parties in the Middle East to remain calm, exercise restraint and resolve conflicts and differences through dialogue and negotiations on the basis of mutual respect.

President Xi called for joint efforts to safeguard peace and stability in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, saying that the situation in the region is now complicated and sensitive.

President Xi made the remark as he met with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi in Beijing. China stands ready to maintain communication with various parties including Iraq, Xi said.

The relationship between the two nations is at a new historic starting point as both sides celebrated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations last year, he said, adding that China is ready to work together with Iraq to bring their bilateral strategic partnership to new heights.

In its participation in the economic reconstruction of Iraq, China started the earliest and has been involved for the longest period among all countries, with its programs spanning a wide range of sectors, Xi said.

Chinese businesses remained in Iraq even when the security situation was the most challenging, he said.

China is willing to step up alignment between the Belt & Road Initiative and Iraq’s reconstruction plans and bolster cooperation in areas such as crude oil and infrastructure, he said.

He also voiced hope that the two nations, both being ancient civilisations, can step up people-to-people exchanges, and urged Iraq to continue with forceful measures to ensure the security of Chinese institutions and personnel.

President Xi stressed that China will offer its firm support to Iraq’s efforts to safeguard its sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity and opposes any outside interference in Iraq’s domestic affairs.

China congratulated Iraq on its major victory in its war against terrorism, and is willing to continue to support and help with the country’s counter terrorism and reconstruction efforts, he added.

Abdul Mahdi, who is making his First State visit to China, offered his congratulations on the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

China is an important pillar in safeguarding world peace, stability and harmony in the current international landscape, and Iraq appreciates China’s precious support in its counter terrorism and reconstruction efforts.

He also made clear Iraq’s willingness to deepen bilateral pragmatic cooperation within the BRI framework, saying that Iraq is committed to easing tensions in the region and preventing warfare.

Premier Li Keqiang also welcomed Abdul Mahdi. During their meeting, Li called for further political mutual trust and expanded pragmatic cooperation between the two nations.

He also urged both countries to maintain their long-term, stable partnership in the energy sector and expand cooperation in production capacity, manufacturing and agriculture to enable diversified development of the Iraqi economy.

China will support its businesses to actively take part in Iraq’s infrastructure development, Li said.

Li and Abdul-Mahdi also witnessed the signing of multiple cooperative agreements covering areas of economic cooperation, satellite navigation and finance.