Russia's Lavrov in Iraq for energy talks

AFP , Sunday 5 Feb 2023

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Iraq on Sunday for talks on energy and food security in view of the Ukraine conflict, an Iraqi foreign ministry spokesman said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov adresses the Commission of the General Council of the United Russia party in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. AP


He landed in Baghdad late on Sunday at the head of a large delegation that includes "oil and gas companies and investors", Ahmed al-Sahhaf told AFP.

On Monday, Lavrov will meet his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein, the state news agency INA quoted Sahhaf as saying.

He will also meet Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, President Abdul Latif Rashid, and parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbussi.

INA quoted Sahhaf as saying Lavrov's visit "confirms Iraq's openness to all of its partners and friends".

He also underlined the importance of "attracting investment... notably in energy".

Sahhaf had previously told AFP that Lavrov and Hussein "will also discuss transformations related to the security and stability of the region, and the Iraqi point of view regarding military operations in Ukraine".

He noted that Baghdad favoured "any dialogue making it possible to defuse this escalation and alleviate crises... particularly in the food and energy sectors".

His remarks came amid soaring food and energy prices on international markets since Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year.

Iraq, a close ally of Iran, also has strategic relations with the United States, which still has soldiers in the country as part of the international coalition facing the Islamic State group.

On Thursday, Hussein hosted Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.

No mention was made of a possible resumption of negotiations between regional heavyweights Riyadh and Tehran. Baghdad has played the role of mediator in these talks which have been stalled for months.

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