Putin's visit to Washington may help secure oil contracts in Iraq

Russian oil concerns said Wednesday they hoped President Vladimir Putin would promote their case for fulfilling old Iraqi oil contracts during a meeting with US President George Bush. Putin is to travel to the United States in September.

Russian companies held many of the $10 billion in contracts under the oil-for-food program, which allowed Baghdad to sell oil to buy food and other goods under UN sanctions. The UN Security Council decided in May to end the program, and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is reviewing the contracts to decide whether they are still needed.

An Iraqi representative of the Russian oil trader Alfa Eco says the ultimate decision on who wins contracts lies in the hands of the United States and at the moment US companies are given preference, the Russia Journal reported.

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