Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) and his Iraqi counterpart Mohammad Ali al-Hakim shake hands at the end of a joint press conference following their meeting in Moscow on January 30, 2019. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim visited Moscow on Wednesday to discuss developing relations, primarily in the industry and energy sectors.
In a meeting with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov, they discussed developing Iraq’s domestic industries with a project named ‘Made in Iraq.’
The scheme would see the construction of factories in Iraq in order to “address unemployment and the development of Iraqi society,” read a statement from Hakim’s office.
Iraq has a very large youth population and high unemployment. The lack of jobs was one of the reasons behind deadly protests in southern Iraq last summer.
Hakim said Iraq is keen to increase its economic ties with Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who met with Hakim earlier in the day, said Russia welcomes working closer together with Iraq, especially in the energy and military sectors.
“We are posting very good results in investment, primarily the hydrocarbons sector,” he told reporters in a joint press conference with Hakim.
“Lukoil, Gazpromneft, and Soyuzneftegaz are already operating in Iraq, and Rosneft is interested in implementing projects there. This sector has already received investment worth over $10 billion,” he explained of Russian oil and gas companies working in Iraq.
Militarily, he said Moscow is ready to “boost Iraq’s defensive capability and its ability to counter terrorist threats.”
He said that the presence of US forces in Iraq does not worry Russia since they are in the country at the invitation of the Iraqi government.
Baghdad and Moscow will sign a number of deals this year, Hakim said. This will likely take place during a meeting of the Iraqi-Russian Joint Committee in May in Baghdad. At that time, four technical groups focusing on investment, transport, energy, and industry will meet.
Hakim invited Lavrov to visit Iraq as this year they mark the 75th anniversary of their diplomatic ties. Lavrov said he would be happy to do so.