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Iraqi President in China to Seek Debt Relief, Bilateral Cooperation

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani arrived in Beijing Wednesday for talks with Chinese leaders on bilateral relations, oil cooperation and debt relief.

The Iraqi president is expected to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, and other government officials during his six-day visit.

Before leaving for China, Mr. Talabani expressed hope that China would write off Iraq's debt.

China's official Xinhua news agency reports that the two sides will sign agreements on cooperation in fields such as education and health.

Mr. Talabani is also expected to ask China to revive a $1.2 billion deal to explore Iraq's al-Ahdab oil field.

The initial deal was signed in 1997 with China National Petroleum, and could be reactivated once a new oil and gas law is approved by the Iraqi parliament.

The law, if ratified, will open the country's oil resources to foreign companies. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his cabinet have approved the proposed law.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.