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Russia is coming back to Iraq

Putin MubarakRussian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russian specialists would be coming back to Iraq.

They would help restore various sectors of the Iraqi economy including energy sector and social services. President Putin was speaking at a press conference in Cairo after his talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. "We are going to enlarge our support to Iraq and the Iraqi people," said Mr. Putin.

President Putin said that despite the concerns about continuous escalation of violence in Iraq, Russia rates highly the results of last year’s parliamentary election in Iraq. According to Mr. Putin, Russia hopes that the election results could lay the groundwork for political settlement in Iraq.

Putin admitted that some foreign mercenaries were still operating in Iraq. Last year Russia ordered its specialists to leave Iraq after a few Russians were kidnapped and held as hostages. Mr. Putin put special emphasis on a pullout of foreign troops as one of the conditions required for the political settlement in Iraq. He said that several components should pave the way for political settlement in Iraq. Firstly, the government should address issues relating to fair and adequate participation of all ethnic and religious groups in public administration. Secondly, it is necessary to agree to fundamental principles on which a future constitution and political system of Iraq will be built. Thirdly, arrangements should be made with regard to "terms and a timetable for withdrawing the foreign troops from Iraq," said President Putin.

However, a Russian company Interenergoservis that was involved in a few restoration projects in Iraq's energy sector in the past, will not be ready to send its specialists back to Iraq unless guarantees for their personal safety are in place, Interfax reported citing Alexander Rybinsky, executive director of the above company. Mr. Rybinsky said that the problem was more related to the assessment of a real situation in Iraq than to any legal guarantees.

The Russian Foreign Ministry believes that security risks in Iraq are still high to Russian citizens, said Mr. Rybinsky. "We would not consider possibilities for the return of our specialists to Iraq until the Russian Foreign Ministry declares that the situation in that country has changed for the better," said he.

Interenergoservis conducted restoration on four power plants in Iraq. The operations were suspended and the all the personnel were evacuated to Russia following a series of attacks on the company personnel. Two workers of Interenergoservis were killed during one of the attacks.

On the photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

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