Iraq Remains Russia's Key Economic Partner In Arab World

In 2001, Russia supplied to Iraq, Russia's key trade and economic partner in the Arab world, a batch of lorries and motor-cars, as well as equipment for oil-and-gas industry. This was disclosed by Vladimir Titorenko, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, who is on a tour of the Gulf countries. This year the volume of trade and economic exchange between Russia and Iraq will amount to USD 2.4 billion or 60 percent of the overall Russian-Arab cooperation. Russian experts take part in restoration of power units of five Iraqi heating stations, engage in two major irrigation projects worth of USD 150 million and reconstruct several elevators. At the same time, the trade volume could be higher, but since September the UN committee for sanctions against Iraq blocked implementation of Russian contracts worth of USD 860 million, Titorenko stressed. Russia propose its option to settle the problem of Iraq's economic blockade supported by a number of countries, i.e. in exchange for Baghdad consent for international disarmament inspectorate to resume its work, the UN will suspend and then, in case of absence of the mass destruction weapons, lift off the sanctions. This package decision would provide Iraq with a "temporary corridor" and open prospects for lifting off the blockade, Titorenko stressed.

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