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Russia and Iraq May Revive Pre-War Contracts

Russia and Iraq have agreed to work toward restoring contracts established before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said the understanding was reached during Friday's talks in Moscow between prime ministers of the two countries.

Russian energy firms such as Lukoil signed agreements with the government of Saddam Hussein. But Saddam later canceled Lukoil's deal to develop Iraq's West Qurna oil field, and other contracts were frozen after the 2003 U.S. invasion.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Russian counterpart discussed improving cooperation on the oil and gas industries and other subjects.

Russian state media, Itar-Tass, quoted Mr. Maliki as saying that Russian companies will play an important role in Iraq's reconstruction.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told reporters that his country and Iraq will likely resume cooperation in the area of military technology.

Mr. Maliki met later Friday with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev during his first official visit to Russia.

Iraq's foreign minister signed an agreement last year to repay about $900 million in Soviet-era debt over 17 years. Russia agreed to forgive nearly $13 billion as part of the deal.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.