China reopens Iraq embassy, cuts debt
China will send a group of diplomats to Iraq in mid-February to prepare the reopening of Chinese Embassy in Baghdad, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhang Qiyue said Thursday.
The embassy was closed just under a year ago.
To support Iraq's post-war reconstruction, China has also decided to remit a large amount of the debts owed to China by the Middle East nation out of humanitarian concerns, Zhang said at a regular news conference.
She noted the concrete amount to be reduced is now being calculated and studied by the two sides.
Headed by Chinese interim Charge d'Affairs to Iraq Sun Bigan, a working panel composed of seven officials from the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Commerce will leave for Baghdad on February 15 under the escort of Chinese armed police dispatched from home.
The Chinese Embassy in Iraq has been robbed many times, with even the ceramic tiles on its walls torn off when Chinese diplomats evacuated it in March of last year, according to reports.
To make preparations for the reopening, Zhang said diplomats will make wide contacts with officials from the Governing Council of Iraq, the US-led coalition and the United Nations after their arrival.
Besides those contacts, the group will promote Chinese companies' trying to participate in reconstruction contracts and safeguard China's rights in all Iraq affairs,Sun was quoted as saying.
Sun, who was former Chinese Ambassador to Iraq, and his staff are temporarily in Jordan.
As a developing country, China understands well the difficulties of Iraq in reconstruction and its humanitarian situation, Zhang said.
During a meeting in December with James Baker -- special US envoy -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said China would consider reducing debts owed by Iraq out of humanitarian concerns.
In another development, China, as the rotating president of the UN Security Council in February, will use the role to make progress in solving major world issues, Zhang said.
China will keep close contacts with UN members and the UN Secretariat with the principle of "being pragmatic, efficient, fair and transparent'' to maintain the role and UN authority, she said.
The UN council would hold consultations on issues concerning Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Kosovo and the Middle East in February, Zhang said.
Answering an inquiry about Pakistan and India, the spokesperson said China welcomes the recent announcement by the two countries of their efforts at dialogue.
As a common neighbour and friend of both India and Pakistan, Zhang said China hopes the two sides will maintain good momentum and solve all disputes through talks, while pushing forward all-around development of bilateral relations.
Pakistani foreign office spokesman Masood Khan said on January 27 the two nations will begin a dialogue in Islamabad from February 16 to 18.