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    Russian business seeks greater share in Iraq reconstruction effort

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    Russian companies are prepared to become more closely involved in the reconstruction and modernization of Iraq's economy, primarily in the energy and oil and gas sectors, the Russian president said on Monday.

    MOSCOW, March 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russian companies are prepared to become more closely involved in the reconstruction and modernization of Iraq's economy, primarily in the energy and oil and gas sectors, the Russian president said on Monday.

    "Our companies are ready to increase their contribution to the reconstruction and modernization of Iraq's economic infrastructure, primarily in the energy and oil and gas spheres, where we have accumulated extensive experience," Vladimir Putin said in a message to Iraq's prime minister, which was released by the presidential press service.

    He mentioned a contract to develop the second stage of the West Qurna-2 oil field and a project to modernize the Kirkuk-Banias oil pipeline as among the most promising areas of Russian business participation.

    "I am expecting that Russian businesses' proactive mood will be matched by adequate support from the Iraqi leadership," the president said.

    He said the Iraqis possessed the ability to build a strong and independent state that would become an important factor in regional stability.

    The message was handed over to Prime Minister Nour al Maliki by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister A. V. Saltanov, who is also the president's special envoy to the Middle East.

    Iraq has been plagued by violence since the formal end of the U.S.-led invasion of the Middle East state in 2003.

    Over 100 people have been killed in the last two weeks in a series of bomb and mortar attacks throughout Iraq. U.S. troop deaths now stand at 4,000.

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