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China says Libyan oil projects of mutual benefit

SHANGHAI (AP) — China’s oil investments in Libya are important to both sides and Beijing is hoping for a swift return to stability, the government said Tuesday.

As Libyan opposition fighters seeking to oust leader Moammar Gadhafi poured into Tripoli, Beijing said it was ready to cooperate in reconstruction and would respect the choice of the Libyan people — apparently moving toward engagement with the rebels.

China abstained from the U.N. Security Council vote authorizing U.N. members to protect civilians rebelling against Gadhafi, and has pushed for a peaceful, political resolution of the conflict. Some 35,000 Chinese citizens were evacuated from the country after fighting erupted in February.

Wen Zhongliang, a deputy chief of the Commerce Ministry’s foreign trade department, told reporters in Beijing on Tuesday that China’s investments in Libya, estimated to be as high as $18 billion, had been affected by the country’s current conflict but that it hopes to continue cooperation once stability is restored.

“China’s investments in Libya, especially oil-related investments, are mutually beneficial economic cooperation that benefits the people of both countries,” Wen said.

“We hope stability will be restored as soon as possible and to carry out cooperation with Libya in this regard,” he said according to comments posted on the Commerce Ministry website.

According to the official Xinhua News Agency, China National Petroleum Corp., the country’s state-run oil and gas giant, says it had to cancel six projects in Libya and Niger as a result of the unrest in the region.

It put losses from the disruptions at 1.2 billion yuan ($188 million).

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