27 January 2004
MOSCOW – Foreign companies including Russian oil firms will be free to pursue contracts with the new Iraqi government after it is formed this summer, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday.
“The temporary administration will not make any recommendations to the future Iraqi government with whom it should work,” Powell was quoted as saying on Ekho Moskvy radio during an official visit to Russia.
“There are no limitations on the work of Russian or, say, French companies in Iraq. Everything will be decided by Iraq’s government,” said Powell, who met with the Russian leadership Monday to discuss issues including the post-war settlement in Iraq.
Russia together with France and Germany was a key opponent to the US-led military action.
Russian companies led by Lukoil are now anxious to renew an estimated USD six billion contract signed in 1997 with the former Iraqi authorities to pump 20 billion barrels of oil in Iraq’s West Qurna-2 field after UN sanctions were lifted.
Saddam Hussein’s government annulled the deal with Lukoil in late 2002 in a move that was seen as punishing Russia for not opposing the US war plans more vigorously.
Subject: German news