MOSCOW, July 25. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday will meet with Iraq’s visiting Vice-President Nouri al-Maliki in St. Petersburg, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS.
Al-Maliki, the leader of the Rule of Law parliamentary coalition, arrived in Russia on July 23 on a visit, which will last till July 26. He has already met with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko.
On July 24 Al-Maliki discussed with Lavrov ways of stepping up cooperation in the struggle against terrorism in Iraq. Lavrov said Moscow supported Baghdad in its efforts to uproot the terrorist threat in the region.
Al-Maliki said that Iraq was on the threshold of a new development phase and was interested in Russia’s participation in efforts to maintain the political balance in the country. Such a balance, he said, can be preserved through cooperation in the energy sector, in the military-technical sphere and in politics." Al-Maliki said there was a possibility Iraq might confront new challenges in the political sphere, including those stemming from external intervention in the region’s affairs.
Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko at a meeting with Al-Maliki asked him to consider the possibility of sending Iraqi delegates to the 2nd Eurasian Women’s Forum Russia will host next year. She also voiced the hope Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker Salim al-Jaburi would attend the 137th assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in St. Petersburg in the autumn.
Matviyenko said that inter-parliamentary cooperation was still lagging behind the active political contacts. She called for stepping up cooperation between the two countries’ parliaments in various spheres and for giving thought to creating Russia-Iraq friendship groups.
Al-Maliki said Iraq was open to closer cooperation with Russia in the context of successful struggle against terrorism in the region. "We seek greater openness and stronger bonds of friendship with Russia," he said. "Time is ripe for getting more open to Russia in the context of what has been achieved in the struggle against terrorism and terrorist organizations."
He expressed Iraq’s confidence in Russia’s role in resolving a large number of international problems and strengthening security in the Middle East and around the world. He believes that the forthcoming meeting with President Putin is a sure sign of the firm intention to advance bilateral relations.
After talks with the Russian foreign minister and Federation Council speaker Al-Maliki said the question of holding a referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan in the autumn was discussed during his visit to Moscow "in the context of a vision of the country’s future."
"We support the interests of the Kurdish people, but what we see today by no means serves the interests of the Iraqi people to the desirable extent. We would like to see a serious dialogue between Baghdad and Kurdistan for the sake of a settlement, but for now the situation is evolving in the opposite direction, not in the interest of Iraq," he said.
Al Maliki underscored the special importance of creating Iraq’s political system that would be based on the principles of political majority for giving the Iraqi people a reliable future regardless of ethnicity or religion."