Source Pravda.Ru

Iraqi presidential adviser hopes for long-standing economic ties with Russia

An Iraqi presidential adviser on Wednesday urged Russia to take a more proactive role in resurrecting the two nations' long-standing economic ties.

Jalal al-Mashta, who spoke during a round-table discussion organized by Russian Islamic Heritage at the upper house of parliament, rejected assertions from some participants that the U.S.-led invasion had been conducted to satisfy Washington's thirst for oil.

"The Cold War is over, these are new times," al-Mashta said. "You can't think like this."

Al-Mashta promised that Russian companies had prospects in Iraq, but suggested they would benefit from more active government backing.

"We have received presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers _ many people _ but not a single minister from Russia," he said. "We want Russia to take a position."

Russia and Iraq's traditionally strong Soviet-era ties have lapsed since the ouster of Iraq's former President Saddam Hussein by coalition forces in March 2003.

Russia saw contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars (euros) frozen in the oil, gas and power station building sectors. The future of those deals has hinged on approval from Iraq's new leaders, as well as security concerns after several Russian workers were killed and kidnapped last year.

Russian oil giant Lukoil's 1997 agreement to drill at the West Qurna field has yet to be given the go-ahead. The field is one of Iraq's most promising, with an estimated reserve capacity of 4 billion barrels.