Russia Eyes Deals in Iraq

Reuters reports that Russia is talking directly with Iraq's oil-rich Kurdistan region about investment opportunities there, Russia's ambassador to Iraq said on Tuesday, a strategy that could irritate Iraq's central government.

Baghdad is at odds with the semi-autonomous northern region and has strongly opposed oil deals the Kurds have signed independently with foreign companies. The row has interrupted exports from Kurdish oilfields.

Speaking inside the heavily fortified Russian embassy compound in Baghdad, ambassador Valerian Shuvayev said Russian delegates often visited Kurdistan to explore opportunities.

"They go to Kurdistan quite a lot. There is nothing concrete but both sides are thinking about how to take this further," he said in an interview.

Asked if Russian companies considered signing contracts with Kurdistan directly, Shuvayev said: "Why not? If (a project) is feasible, then why not. And there have been talks." He was tight-lipped on the details and declined to name the companies.

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