MOSCOW, February 5. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who has arrived on a working visit in Iraq, will meet with President Abdul Latif Rashid, Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani, speaker of the House of Representatives (parliament) Mohamed al-Halbousi and his Iraqi counterpart, Fuad Hussein, the Russian foreign ministry said on Sunday.
"The upcoming meetings are expected to focus on key area of the progressive development of comprehensive Russian-Iraqi ties, including the expansion of political dialogue, the invigoration of trade-and-economic, military-technical and cultural-and-humanitarian cooperation," the ministry said.
"The sides will analyze the current state of and prospects for further expansion of business partnership in the energy sector. Russia’s PAO Lukoil, PAO Gazprom neft, PAO Bashneft, PAO Rosneft are implementing large-scale projects in Iraq," it noted.
According to the ministry, bilateral trade grew by 2.2 times in 2021 on 2020, from 127 million US dollars to 282 million US dollars. In January-November 2022, trade grew by 47.5% as compared with the same period 2021, from 258.5 million US dollars to 381.4 million US dollars.
It is also planned to discuss ways to preserve the positive dynamics in bilateral trade, including through the implementation of the corresponding resolutions of the Russian-Iraqi commission on trade, economic and scientific cooperation, which held its ninth meeting in Moscow in August 2022.
The sides will also discuss plans for expanding mutually beneficial cooperation in such sectors as industry and agriculture.
Special attention will be focused on the situation in Iraq in the context of the formation of a new coalition government. The Russian side will express support to the efforts of the Mohammad al-Sudani government to ensure stability and security in the country.
Russia and Iraq are interested in coordinating their positions on the current regional problems, the ministry stressed. "Partner cooperation between our countries is a serious factor, which has a positive influence on the processes in the Middle East and North Africa," it noted.
The sides will exchange views on the situation in Syria with a focus on the tasks of promoting a comprehensive political settlement in conformity with the UN Security Council resolution, encouraging the country’s post-conflict revival and expanding international humanitarian aid to Damascus. "IT is planned to discuss in detail the situation in the Gulf area, including in the light of Russia’s concept of collective security in the Gulf," the ministry noted.
"Amid the unprecedented pressure from Western countries, the Iraqi side holds a balanced position on Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine," the ministry stressed, adding that it considers Baghdad’s refusal to join the illegal anti-Russian sanctions as proof that bilateral ties are staying unchanged amid the changing geopolitical situation.
"We consider Lavrov’s upcoming visit to Iraq as a major part of the efforts toward promoting comprehensive cooperation with our traditional partners in the Middle East. We are convinced that it is in common long-term interests of peace, prosperity and stability of this strategically important region," the ministry added.