Speaking today at a press conference in Moscow, Abbas Khalaf, Iraq's Ambassador to Russia, said his country had no intention of using Russia as Trojan Horse. 'To us Russia', he said', he said, 'is a reliable partner. Iraq does not pursue immediate benefits. What we are about to sign is a long-term programme of cooperation to last for years'.
The agreement will result in new favourable conditions of work in Iraq for many Russia's professionals. Mr. Khalaf said this may not at all prevent the US from a military operation against Iraq. Yet Iraq, he assured, was not about to hide behind Russia's back. According to the Ambassador, about 200 Russian professionals from a number of companies, including LUKoil, work in Iraq at this time.
Abbas Khalaf said the programme of cooperation in question had been passed on to Russia in April 2001 and had been approved by all the ministries and agencies of the Russian Federation. At this time, the program is on the desk of Russia's Prime Minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, ready to be signed by him.
The programme includes cooperation in the production of oil and gas and the development of transportation and communications, the combined value of involved contracts amounting to USD 40 billion.
In the meantime, Georgy Mirsky, a political scientist and researcher from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, said the signing of this programme of cooperation did not mean Russia was about to abandon the international sanctions against Iraq. However, this does not rescind the fact that economic relations between the two countries are just as fine as can be.
Mr. Mirsky said should the sanctions be abolished, Iraq's oil would flood the markets and drop the prices and in the closest future this simply would not happen. In the present situation, he continued, Russia simply must get ahead of everyone else.