UNITED NATIONS — China on Tuesday called for international efforts to support Iraq in autonomously advancing its domestic political processes.

Noting that Iraq has set a goal of holding elections in 2021, an important political agenda in the country, Geng Shuang, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations (UN), told a UN Security Council’s meeting that “we hope that the elections will be held smoothly, realizing thereby the vision of the Iraqi people.”

“The international community should create a favorable environment for this purpose, fully heed the views of Iraq, and respect its ownership when providing assistance,” said the envoy at the open virtual meeting on the situation in Iraq.

Geng said that since the new Iraqi government took office, it has achieved positive results in promoting political transition, preparing for early elections, meeting economic and social challenges, and developing peaceful and friendly foreign relations.

“At the same time, it should be noted that the persistent regional turbulence, the rampage unleashed by terrorist remnants, and the spread of COVID-19 have together brought severe challenges to the stability and development of Iraq,” said the envoy.

Talking about the security situation in the country, Geng said that efforts must be made to “safeguard the hard-won peace and stability.”

Citing the UN secretary-general’s latest report, Geng said that “terrorist remnants have launched numerous attacks in Iraq, causing significant casualties.”

“The international community should continue to support the Iraqi side in carrying out counterterrorism operations, combating terrorism, dealing with the issue of foreign terrorist fighters, bringing terrorists to justice according to domestic laws, and preventing the return and spread of terrorist forces and activities,” he said.

The envoy noted that peace and development cannot be achieved in Iraq in the absence of a stable neighborhood, and “China commends the Iraqi efforts to develop friendly and mutually beneficial relations with countries in the region.”

“We hope that all parties concerned will respond to the secretary-general’s appeal and resolve their differences through such peaceful means as dialogue and consultation, so as to continuously enhance mutual trust and avoid escalation of tension,” he said.

“Any military actions on the Iraqi territory must be subject to the consent of the Iraqi government, and Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity should be fully respected,” he said.

Speaking about the approach towards the country’s economic and social development, Geng said that it must be “people-centered.”

“The important task for Iraq is to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, speed up the national reconstruction and improve the economic and humanitarian situation,” he said.

“The new Iraqi government has responded positively to people’s demands by prioritizing economic reform, improving people’s livelihood, addressing the pandemic and combating corruption, which we appreciate,” said the envoy.

“The international community should encourage Iraq to explore a development path suited to its national conditions, help it fight the pandemic, rebuild key infrastructure, achieve economic diversification, strengthen capacity building, protect vulnerable groups such as women and children, and promote peace through development,” said the envoy.

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