The Iraqi government is moving to expand strategic cooperation with Russia, and Russia has an interest in playing a role in arming Iraqi security forces, developing oil pipelines and rehabilitating Iraqi electrical power plants, most of which are of Soviet origin.
Against this background, a meeting between Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently took place in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Zebari extended an invitation to his Russian counterpart to visit Baghdad to strengthen the joint working councils formed after the visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to Moscow last April. The councils are responsible for resolving pending bilateral issues and strengthening joint ventures.
Following the Damascus meeting, Zebari confirmed in a press conference that over the next few days, a team of Russian military experts will head to Baghdad to discuss the weapons, equipment and ammunition that Iraq has requested for its military forces and security services. Iraq will assume responsibility for its national security once U.S. forces depart at the end of 2011.
The Iraqi minister added that Baghdad and Moscow have reached an agreement providing for bilateral collaboration to build a new oil pipeline in the region. He indicated that Russian company Stroytransgaz will begin construction of it to transport oil from Iraq to Jordan and Syria and Lebanon.
The Iraqi Ministry of Electricity has also signed several agreements with Russian companies to rehabilitate and improve the performance of gas-powered generators throughout Iraq. Most were built by Soviet enterprises in the communist era during the 1970s and 1980s to provide electricity to outlying governates.
Source: Al-Shorfa Correspondent/ Novosti News Agency/ Iraqi News Agency