12:18 GMT16 January 2021
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    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has arrived in Baghdad for his first visit in five years, at a time when the nation is dealing with mass protests against corruption and social problems.

    Russia will fulfil contracts for weapons delivery to Iraq, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated after talks with counterpart Mohamed Ali Alhakim.

    "We have a common opinion on the need to implement the decisions of the intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation, which took place in April, and we will also fulfil existing contracts for the supply of Russian military goods to Iraq", he said.

    Before the visit, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Lavrov would meet with the national leadership in Baghdad and the authorities of the Kurdish autonomous region in Erbil.

    According to the diplomat, the visit would see special attention paid to efforts to boost cooperation in combating international terrorism and the spread of religious extremism.

    Bilateral relations are also on the agenda, including cooperation in the energy sector and humanitarian ties.

    Iraqi Foreign Minister Discusses Energy, Defense Cooperation With Russia's Lavrov

    "We exchanged opinions on perspectives of increasing Iraq-Russia trade and activating investment projects in the fields of defence and energy", Alhakim said after the talks.

    The Iraqi foreign minister also said the two sides discussed bilateral trade and economic cooperation, as well as investment opportunities for Russian companies already working in Iraq, particularly in infrastructure.

    Iraq's Ambassador to the United Nations Mohamed Ali Alhakim speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council August 15, 2014 at United Nations headquarters in New Yor
    © AFP 2020 / DON EMMERT
    Iraq's Ambassador to the United Nations Mohamed Ali Alhakim speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council August 15, 2014 at United Nations headquarters in New Yor

    Lavrov, meanwhile, said Russia was satisfied with the formation of the Iraqi government, which was stalled for some time, as well as with Baghdad's improved relations with Erbil — the two sides have been engaged in constructive dialogue recently.

    "[Russia] is satisfied that the processes involving the formation of Iraq's legislative and executive government bodies have been completed, as well as the election of regional leadership in the autonomous Kurdistan Region", Lavrov said, adding that Moscow hoped the improving Baghdad-Erbil relations would contribute to Iraq's social and economic development overall.

    Lavrov also said that Moscow and Baghdad's positions on Syria were the same and that both sides agreed that it was necessary to launch political processes in the country in accordance to the recently formed Constitutional Committee, which will convene for the first time on 30 October in Geneva.

    "[Iraq and Russia's] position on Syria is the same — we must eradicate terrorist groups, create conditions for the return of refugees and migrants and launch a unified political process within the framework of the newly-formed Constitutional Committee", Lavrov said.

    Finally, Lavrov said that Iraq and Russia shared a similar position on the steps needed to ease tensions in the Persian Gulf after the situation there worsened over recent months.

    "We have a common view of how to achieve the de-escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf. We and our Iraqi friends believe that it should be done in such a way that all sides are united in their efforts and not split over various schemes", Lavrov said.

    The Russian foreign minister added that he and his colleague discussed concrete goals with regard to strengthening counterterrorism efforts through various existing channels, including the Russia-Syria-Iran-Iraq intelligence-sharing coalition.

    Currently, Iraq is embroiled in anti-government protests, which have been ongoing since Tuesday. The country's Interior Ministry has estimated that a total of 104 people have been killed in the protests. On Monday, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi ordered that an investigation be launched into military officers suspected of using excessive force in the protests.

    delivery, Weapons, Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Sergei Lavrov, Iraq, Russia
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