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    LUKOIL TO RETURN TO IRAQ

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    BAGHDAD, March 8 (RIA Novosti) - The head of Russia's oil company Lukoil, Vagit Alekperov plans to visit Iraq soon, he said in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

    The aim of the visit is to revive the contract to develop the West Qurna-2 oil deposit, annulled in the last months of Saddam Hussein's rule.

    The contract worth $3.7 billion is still valid, in Mr. Alekperov's opinion, despite the fact that the present Iraqi leadership has not taken a final decision on this account.

    "Our contract," Mr. Alekperov said, "is valid, and we hope to find mutual understanding on the terms of the project realization." The Lukoil head said he maintains contacts with officials in the Iraqi oil ministry and the Interim Governing Council.

    The contract to develop the West Qurna-2 deposit was signed by the Russian company in mid-nineties. But early in 2003, Baghdad said it annuls it in connection with the fact that Lukoil did not fulfill its obligations.

    The Russian company's representatives said they can't fulfill the contract in the conditions of UN economic sanctions that were applied then against Iraq.

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