BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Friday that it was watching security developments in Iraq closely after Islamist fighters captured two more towns in a sweep south, and offered the government in Baghdad whatever help it can give.
China is the top foreign player in Iraq's oilfields, which are the largest in the Middle East open to foreign investment, and has a natural interest in the country's stability.
"China is paying close attention to the recent security situation in Iraq and we support the Iraqi government's efforts to maintain domestic security and stability. We hope that Iraq can return to stability, safety and normality as early as possible," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said. "For a long time, China has been giving Iraq a large amount of all sorts of aid and is willing to give whatever help it is able to," she told a daily news briefing, without elaborating.
China had asked Iraq's government to ensure the safety of Chinese people in the country, Ms Hua said, though she did not say if any there had been any effect on China's oil interests in the country.
State-run China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China's biggest oil and gas producer, has three projects in Iraq, in the south and south-east of the country.