A joint Russian-Iraqi commission on the oil industry and power engineering met in Moscow on April 20. According to a Russian deputy minister for fuel and energy, the talks focused on the participation of Russian companies in both the “oil for food” program worked out between Iraq and the UN, and in possible efforts to restore Iraq’s oil pipelines. The need for restoration of the pipelines has arisen since the UN approved a measure that raises the amount of oil that Iraq can sell on world markets for the purchase of humanitarian goods. (Itar-Tass, April 20)
Moscow has been among Iraq’s most ardent supporters on the UN Security Council and one of the most vocal in calling for an early lifting of UN sanctions on Iraq. For that reason, authorities in Baghdad have awarded Russia with a number of contracts under the “oil-for-food” program. At the same time, Russia stands to profit handsomely if sanctions are lifting on Baghdad. Iraq currently owes Russia an estimated $7 billion (from the Soviet era). Moreover, some reports have suggested that the two countries have signed various economic agreements–particularly in the energy field–worth more than $10 billion. Those contracts can be activated only after the lifting of sanctions.
CHECHENS MARK ANNIVERSARY OF DUDAEV’S DEATH.