Iraq and Russia Sign Three Oil Deals

From Associated Press

Iraq and Russia signed three oil agreements Friday for exploration and development of oil fields in southern and western Iraq.

The accords were signed in Baghdad between Iraqi Oil Ministry Undersecretary Hussein Suleiman Hadithi and Ivan Matlashov, Russia's first deputy energy minister.

The deals were announced after the Russian oil company Lukoil said Friday that it had persuaded Baghdad to reverse a November decision to strip Lukoil of the right to develop the West Qurnah oil field.

"Iraq never revoked the license. The agreement wasn't legally broken, there was only a letter of intent. Now the agreement is back to where it was," said Grigori Volchek of Lukoil Overseas.

Iraq's initial action against Lukoil came after Russia's support for a U.N. resolution requiring Baghdad to cooperate with weapons inspectors. Iraq has denied any political motives.

While urging Iraq to open up to U.N. inspections, Russia has maintained its opposition to possible U.S. military action against Baghdad.

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