China vows to offer more assistance to Iraq

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing on Friday vowed to offer more assistance to Iraq as Iraqi President Jalal Talabani paid his first state visit to China.

"China would like to write off Iraqi debts, offer Iraq assistance within its ability and help train Iraqi personnel to upgrade the country's educational and medical capacities," Wen told Talabani.

On Thursday, China and Iraq signed four agreements, including one that canceled some Iraqi debt. But it is unclear how much Iraqi debt will be erased by China.

Wen said the Chinese government would like to work with Iraq to seek stronger cooperation in various sectors and on the basis of mutual trust and equality.

Talabani said he was touched by the friendly feelings the Chinese people have shown to the Iraqi people and impressed with the Chinese government's sincerity in developing ties with Iraq.

Talabani said Iraq appreciated China's support to Iraq on economic reconstruction.

Their 40-minute-long meeting took place in Zhongnanhai in downtown Beijing where China's top leaders work and live.

Talabani is the first Iraqi president to visit China since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1958.

The week-long visit will also take Talabani to northwest China's ancient city of Xi'an and Nanjing, capital of eastern Jiangsu Province.

In April 2005, Talabani was elected president of Iraq, becoming the first Kurdish president in Iraqi history.