RUSSIAN-IRAQI INTERGOVERNMENTAL COMMISSION TO HOLD SESSION IN MOSCOW

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MOSCOW, December 7 (RIA Novosti) - A session of the Russian-Iraqi intergovernmental commission is scheduled to be held in Moscow in February 2005, said Victor Khristenko, Russia's minister of industry and energy.

"It was a proposal of our Iraqi colleagues to 'actualise' the intergovernmental commission," Khristenko said to journalists Tuesday after his meeting with Iraq's minister of electricity Ayham al-Samarrai and minister of oil Thamir Ghadban.

"If the internal Iraqi problems (elections and others) are resolved by February, it will be quite realistic and suitable for us. I hope the session will be held in February," the Russian minister added.

In Khristenko's words, the sides discussed two main issues at the meeting. The first one concerned the organisation of further work, including that of Russian companies, on the Iraqi market and the interaction between sectoral ministries. "The second issue, which is related to history, was what to do with a whole set of projects and contracts that we have, since it is always rather difficult to start from scratch," Khristenko said. In replying to the question about the Iraqi ministers' position, Khristenko pointed out that "they are for history, and this is a good approach: we cannot start from scratch. "The model of this approach is being finalised now by the Iraqi authorities." he noted.

According to Khristenko, during the meeting the sides discussed, in particular, the "Oil for Food" programme, contracts for developing Iraqi oil fields and also construction contracts for building oil and gas pipelines and creating energy generating facilities.

Khristenko pointed out that the Iraqi minister of electricity outlined Iraq's plans for restoring its electric energy generating capacities. "The plans are most ambitious: to boost electricity generation (as well as the network constituent) fourfold," the Russian minister said.

At the same time, he stressed that the key issue for Russian contractor companies is that of security in Iraq.

Khristenko noted that this first meeting at such a level was, to a considerable extent, of a "fact-finding" character. Meanwhile, the sides tried to find solutions to the current problems in Russian-Iraqi economic relations.

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