Russian Trade Delegation Flies into Baghdad
A Russian delegation headed by a deputy minister for industry, science and technology, Alexander Pivovarov, flew into Baghdad on Monday for talks on bilateral cooperation.
The 17-strong delegation will hold talks with Iraqi officials, the INA news agency reported.
Another delegation of 250 Russian deputies, oil executives and other industrialists flew into Iraq last week to participate in the Baghdad international trade fair.
Iraqi Transport Minister Ahmed Murtada said that Vnukovo Airlines of Russia would start regular flights between Moscow and Baghdad from October 27.
But the airline’s vice president Alexei Sapkinen told AFP "these are not regular commercial flights, but special flights carrying humanitarian aid and passengers who have bought their tickets through the Russian-Iraqi friendship society."
"The resumption of regular flights, four times a week, will only happen when we have received foreign ministry clearance," he added.
The Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) said Monday, however, that the airline had begun "a charter weekly service from Moscow to Baghdad" on the said date, exploiting a loophole in UN sanctions.
Several Russian planes have landed in Baghdad since the reopening in mid-August of Saddam International Airport despite the sanctions imposed on Iraq following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
The United Nations has an embargo on commercial flights to Iraq, but a number of countries have recently bypassed it with what they have described as humanitarian, non-commercial flights.
The countries have argued that such flights are not covered by the embargo.
It is an interpretation fiercely resisted by UN Security Council members Britain and the United States, which argue that all flights to Iraq have to be cleared by the UN sanctions committee -- BAGHDAD (AFP)
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