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Baghdad yet undecided about buying Russian S-400 systems - Iraqi ambassador

Official Russian delegation consisting of officials from the Russian ministries of defense and of industry and trade will pay a visit to Baghdad, Haidar Mansour Hadi added

MOSCOW, July 22. /TASS/. Baghdad has not yet taken a final decision on purchases of Russian-made S-400 missile systems, Iraqi Ambassador to Russian Haidar Mansour Hadi said in an interview with TASS.

"We said we could buy S-400 systems, if need be. But no final decision has been taken so far. There have been no official talks with the Russian side either," he said.

When Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari was on a visit in Moscow in February 2018, he said his country was looking at buying S-400 missile systems.

Russia’s S-400 Triumf (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) is the latest long-range antiaircraft missile system that went into service in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range missiles, and surface targets. The system can hit aerodynamic targets at a range of up to 400 kilometers (249 miles) and tactical ballistic targets flying at a speed of 4.8 km/s (3 mi/s) at a distance of up to 60 kilometers (37 miles). Such targets include cruise missiles, tactical and strategic aircraft and ballistic missile warheads.

The system’s radars detect aerial targets at a distance of up to 600 kilometers (373 miles). The system’s 48N6E3 surface-to-air missiles can hit aerodynamic targets at altitudes of 10,000-27,000 meters and ballistic threats at altitudes of 2,000-25,000 meters.

Mansour Hadi also added, that an official Russian delegation consisting of officials from the Russian ministries of defense and of industry and trade will pay a visit to Baghdad next week.

According to the Iraqi diplomat, the talks will focus on issues of military technical and energy cooperation.

Elections in Iraq

Mansour Hadi said that the results of the May elections to the Iraqi parliament are preliminary verified after vote recounting.

"Most of the ballot papers have already been recounted. I think the process will be over in several days and the government will announce the results. As of today, the recounting results practically completely confirm the initial results," he said.

Parliamentary elections in Iraq were held on May 12. The country’s High Electoral Commission opted not to use manual counting of votes. The move was met with severe criticism from a number of political parties which accused the commission of violations and vote rigging. After the result of the polls were made public, the Council of Representatives of Iraq passed amendments to the law on elections to recount the votes across the entire country. On June 12, Iraq’s Supreme Court recognized the parliament’s decision as complying with the constitution and thus sanctioned vote recounting. The process started on July 3 and is not over by now, with official results not announced yet.

The current parliament’s term expired on July 1, with the legitimate powers being exercised by the government until the official voting results are announced.

Amid the disputes over the May election results, winning political alliances said they had begun negotiations on forming a majority coalition in the future parliament. Thus, Saidun, a block of influential Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, (54 seats) has united with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s party (the Nasr block, 42 seats). They are expected to be joined by Fatah (47 seats) led by former minister of transport and commander of the Shia al-Hash al-Shaabadi, or Popular Mobilization Forces), al-Wataniya (21 seats) of Vice President Ayad Allawi and the Hikma (19 seats) party of another influential Shia leader Ammar al-Hakim.

Restoration of cultural heritage sites

Iraq needs Russia’s help in restoration of cultural heritage sites destroyed by Islamic State (a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia) militants, the ambassador noted.

"We need assistance to restore these monuments and we would be more than happy if Russian experts take part in the restoration works," he said.

Irrecoverable damage has been done to Iraq’s cultural heritage by Islamic State militants. On March 24, 2017, the United Nations Security Council passed the first-ever resolution geared to protect cultural heritage. The document, passed on a backdrop of reports on the destruction of cultural heritage sites in Iraq, Syria and other war-torn countries, has a number of recommendation on how to prevent such crimes. Thus, it is recommended to set up the so-called safe zones to protect world heritage sites and regulate exports and imports of historic artefacts through obligatory certification under international standards.