BAGHDAD, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Thursday expressed the hope that his current visit to China will be "a quantum leap" in China-Iraq ties.
"We seek, in our visit, to form a framework relations for strategic partnership in order to rise and rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, economy and society, and to achieve tangible progress in getting rid of unemployment, poverty and illiteracy," Abdul Mahdi said in a statement released by his office.
Abdul Mahdi, accompanied by a large high-ranking delegation composed of senior officials including ministers and governors, began on Thursday an official trip to China that will last from Sept. 19 to 23.
Such delegation "is not only for the importance of China to Iraq and its global status, but because Iraq has long been seeking to develop the framework of strategic relations with the People's Republic of China," he said.
"Iraq was one of the first countries to join the Belt and Road Initiative, which we seek to link the Near East to the Far East, through what has been known historically as the ancient Silk Road," Abdul Mahdi added.
He called for "fast and direct decisions" by the leaders of the two countries to establish mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships to help Iraq achieve ambitious programs related to the reconstruction of basic infrastructure.
China's Ambassador to Iraq Zhang Tao told Iraqi media earlier the month that China looks forward to making joint efforts with Iraq to deepen the bilateral relations.
The total trade between China and Iraq exceeded 30 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, as China is the biggest trade partner of Iraq. And Iraq is the second biggest oil supplier to China, and the fourth biggest trading partner of China in the Middle East.