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Iraqi PM Kicks Off First China Visit

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (right), accompanied by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, reviews the military honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on July 18.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has begun his first official visit to China, aimed chiefly at attracting more Chinese investment to Iraq.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told reporters in Beijing that Iraq had asked China to set up a fund to help with the reconstruction of the war-battered, oil-rich nation.

Al-Dabbagh said Baghdad hoped Chinese companies would boost investments in the country, which was China's seventh-largest supplier of oil last year.

Al-Maliki met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on July 18. He was scheduled to hold talks with President Hu Jintao and meet Chinese entrepreneurs before leaving on July 21.

compiled from agency reports