Iraqi president kicks off first China visit

Updated: 2007-06-20 22:19

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani arrived in Beijing Wednesday evening, starting the first China visit by a Iraqi president since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1958.

In his weeklong stay in China, Talabani will meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao, top legislator Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao.

Besides Beijing, the Iraqi president will visit northwest China's ancient city of Xi'an and Nanjing, capital of eastern Jiangsu Province.

The two sides will sign agreements on cooperation between the two foreign ministries and on cooperation in such fields as education and health, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang on June 14.

"It's my honor to be the first Iraqi president to visit China since the establishment of the diplomatic ties between Iraq and China 49 years ago," Talabani told Xinhua on the eve of his visit.

"I am looking forward to the visit and hope it will open a new phase of the bilateral relations," Talabani said.

Talabani, born in 1933, became a member of the Iraqi Governing Council on July 13, 2003, and elected as the rotating president of the council in November 2003.

In April 2005, he was elected as the Iraqi president, becoming the first Kurdish president in Iraqi history.

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