Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Iraqi vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan on Wednesday, backing an end to sanctions and touching on oil projects and Baghdad's debt to Moscow, said reports.
Russian news agencies quoted Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov as giving an account of the hour-and-a-half of talks between Putin and Ramadan at the Kremlin, the highest level Iraqi-Russian contact for several years, said Reuters.
Ramadan also handed a message to Putin from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, urging better ties between the two states.
"We back restoring the high level of cooperation which used to exist between our countries," Ivanov was quoted as saying, apparently referring to relations before sanctions were slapped on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Moscow has long called for a lifting of UN trade sanctions against Iraq and an end to the British and U.S. enforcement of "no-fly" zones over northern and southern Iraq, which have led to repeated airstrikes since 1998.
But Russia says that as long as sanctions remain in place it will abide by them.
Ivanov said Putin had reiterated Russia's support for an end to the sanctions, AFP quoted him as saying.
Speaking after talks with Ramadan, Ivanov said the lifting of sanctions should "go together with Iraq's fulfillment of the corresponding UN Security Council resolution."
Earlier this month, Moscow suggested a plan to lift sanctions against Iraq in return for a restart to UN weapons inspections halted in 1998.
Ramadan, who has already rejected the Russian plan, repeated his opposition Wednesday to a new round of inspections by international experts.
"The presence of these inspectors set a precedent for the United States and the Zionists, and Iraq cannot allow their return," he said - Albawaba.com
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