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Russia, Iraq FMs to discuss prospects to hold conference on Syria

June 15, 2012, 1:00 UTC+3

Observers mark that search for ways to settle the situation in Syria politically remains the priority task for Moscow

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MOSCOW, June 15 (Itar-Tass) – The foreign ministers of Russia and Iraq, Sergei Lavrov and Hoshyar Zebari, will meet on Friday in Moscow to discuss prospects to hold an international conference on Syria.

Observers mark that search for ways to settle the situation in Syria politically remains the priority task for Moscow, as the escalation of violence and a possible foreign interference would be a catastrophe for the whole region.

Earlier, the Russian foreign minister voiced the idea to hold an international conference on Syria and expressed hope that it would find support. “We will be doing everything so that all parties on which the settlement of the crisis depends, take part in it,” he added.

Among the possible participants in the conference the minister mentioned Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Iran as “unalienable players of that combination”, as well as the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the European Union.

On Wednesday, the Russian foreign minister held consultations on the issue in Iran. Observers mark that Moscow and Tehran reached mutual understanding as to prospects for the settlement of the Syrian problem. It was stated on the results of the visit that the Syrian issue must be settled on the basis of an intra-Syrian dialogue without foreign interference. The sides also marked that “the opposition in Syria is armed and gunmen are sent there from abroad, and the country is prevented from proceeding with its reforms calmly”.

During the meeting in Moscow, the sides will focus apart from the Syrian issue on the situation in Iraq that remains unstable. Constant terrorist acts undermine efforts of the Iraqi leadership to stabilize the situation in the country.

The foreign ministers will also discuss the development of economic ties between Russia and Iraq. At the present moment practical work concentrates mainly on electric power industry. In April 2012, Russia’s Lukoil began drilling operations at West Qurna-2 oilfield. A Russian-Japanese consortium in which the share of Lukoil is 60 percent, has won a tender for the development of the oilfield not far from the city of Al-Nasiriyah. Observers believe that “Russia and Iraq are equally interested in expanding cooperation in the oil-gas, electric power and military-technical spheres, as well as in the training of Iraqi specialists”.

Despite major problems, Iraq gradually expands foreign economic relations, experts believe. The recently signed agreement on partnership and cooperation with the European Union illustrates that. The agreement envisages cooperation of the parties in fight against terrorism, protection of human rights, development of trade and encouragement of investments, as well as the energy sector.


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