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Iraq PM delays China trip over security, reform drive

PHOTO: www.upi.com

PHOTO: www.upi.com

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi postponed a planned visit to China due to security developments and the need to follow up on a wide-ranging reform drive, his office said.

Abadi “decided to postpone his visit to China, which was scheduled for the 19th of this month, until further notice,” his office said in a statement released late on Monday.

The decision was made “as a result of developments in the security situation” and due to “operations to liberate Anbar and operations in other sectors including Baiji, in addition to the reform package launched” by Abadi, it said.

Iraqi security forces are battling to regain ground from the Islamic State jihadist group in Anbar province, west of Baghdad, and the Baiji area, to its north.

Abadi rolled out a reform plan on August 9 aimed at curbing corruption and streamlining the government in response to weeks of protests and a call for drastic change from the country’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

In the first concrete step of the drive, the premier’s office announced Sunday that he had scrapped a third of the cabinet posts.

Iraq has significant economic ties with China, especially in the oil sector, on which Baghdad is almost entirely reliant for revenue.

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