Author`s name Olga Savka

US proposal to Russia, France and Germany to write off Iraqi debts surprises Russian officials

The Russian State Duma and the Russian business circles are perplexed with a US proposal to Russia, France and Germany to write off Iraqi debts.

Vladimir Nikitin, chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on State Debt and Foreign Assets described the US proposal pronounced by US First Under-Secretary Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz as "very strange".

"Any new Iraqi government must accept the Iraqi debt to Russia worth of $8 bln," the Russian deputy said. "The debt issue must be settled on the bilateral basis. The way the USA proposed to write off the debts cannot be accepted by any country." Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma Budget Committee Vladislav Reznik /the "Unity" faction/ stressed that the proposal by Mr. Wolfowitz was "against the common sense, as the issue relates to the bilateral relations. Nobody is going to discuss it with occupation forces," the deputy pointed out.

"I believe that the US Department of State where people who are more experienced in foreign relations work will soon clarify what Mr. Wolfowitz meant," the Russian parliamentarian said.

"If I were the US First Under-Secretary of Defence, I would do my best to make sure that the US troops do not inflict serious damage on Iraq's economy. Otherwise, the future Iraqi government will have a gruelling time," Mr. Reznik stressed.

"The USA proved that they are aggressors and Barbarians because they let loose the dogs of war. Now they also proved that they are arrogant with those who had censured their aggression," leader of the Russian State Duma Communist Party faction Gennady Zyuganov told journalists point-blank.

"Iraq is a sovereign country, it is one of the UN founders. Even though the coalition troops are playing the master in Iraq, Russia will discuss the debt issue with the legitimate Iraqi government only. And not with Americans. I am sure that the relations between Iraq and Russia will stay friendly as before despite any course of events," Gennady Zyuganov said.

Yevgeni Yagupets, Director General of the Information Cooperation Council of the Russian energy park called Mr. Wolfowitz's statement "weird and improper." He told RIA Novosti that "on the contrary, it would be in point to speak about compensation for Russia's losses caused by the Iraq war." Moreover, Yevgeni Yagupets recalled that Russia "lost substantial means" during the first war in Iraq in 1991.

LUKOIL also described the US proposal as "groundless." Break of oil contracts with Iraq resulted in "losses of billions of U.S. dollars," LUKOIL's official Dmitry Dolgov said. According to him, the only thing that can be discussed is how to compensate for loss of profit.