BEIJING — Iraq's prime minister began his first official visit to China on Monday in a likely bid to attract more Chinese investment in the war-battered, oil-rich nation seeking international investments to fund reconstruction.

Nouri al-Maliki kicked off his trip with a honor guard reception at the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square and talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. He told Wen that Iraq had a lot to learn from the Beijing model.

"We are very willing to learn from China's experience," he said. "Through its own development, China has already become a big nation and an important economic power in the world. China, through its own efforts, realized unity and development."

The two leaders oversaw the signing of a cooperation agreement on economic technology and another pledging administrative skills training for Iraqi government personnel.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali Aldabbagh said the delegation would seek a Chinese fund for Iraqi reconstruction and assurances of future investment by Chinese firms. He said the government hopes China can invest more in Iraq's oil sector but also petrochemicals, steel, and construction.

Al-Maliki was to have talks with President Hu Jintao on Tuesday. Before his departure Thursday, al-Maliki was also to visit with Chinese entrepreneurs and tour some high-tech firms, the China Daily newspaper said.

The visit comes as cooperation between the countries has surged in recent years as China has emerged as one of the biggest economic beneficiaries of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which Beijing opposed.

While Western firms were largely subdued in their interest in Iraq's recent oil auctions, China snapped up contracts, shrugging off the security risks and the country's political instability for the promise of oil.

The state-run China National Petroleum Corp. last month started operations in the al-Ahdab oil field in central Iraq, the first major new area to start oil production in the country in two decades, according to the China Daily. The site is expected to produce around 25,000 barrels of oil per day in the first three years, it said.

The development of the 1 billion-barrel al-Ahdab oil field was the result of a $3 billion pact in 2008, the first made by the new Iraqi government after the 2003 invasion and was the first Chinese-led oil deal.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China and Iraq aim to develop economic cooperation and cultural exchanges.

"China is ready to work with the international community and to continue to provide assistance for the Iraqi people to improve their livelihoods," Hong said in remarks carried by the official Xinhua News Agency.

China also agreed last year to write off 80 percent of Iraq's debt, a move that could further push Chinese business interests in the country, the Iraqi government said in February last year. Iraq's Saddam Hussein-era debt to China stood at $8.5 billion, it said then.

The approximately 46,000 U.S. troops remaining in Iraq are to depart by the end of 2011 under an agreement negotiated in 2008 by the Bush administration, which went to war in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein's government.

One Chinese analyst, Ma Lirong, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute at the Shanghai International Studies University, said al-Maliki will hope to show that his government is in charge of Iraq's reconstruction and encourage China to play a part in that.

China has not played a major role in the reconstruction, with only some projects in northern Iraq.

"Following Maliki's visit, China's role in reconstruction will likely expand to other parts of Iraq, including Baghdad," Ma said.