* * *
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr Prime Minister, it is a great pleasure to see you in Moscow once more.
PRIME MINISTER OF IRAQ NOURI AL-MALIKI: (retranslated): Thank you very much.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We see how the new Iraq is getting back on its feet and developing, and we are very happy for your success.
NOURI AL-MALIKI: Your Excellency, I thank you sincerely for your invitation and for the attention you give to developing our bilateral relations.
This is indeed our second meeting now and it is with pleasure that I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your birthday.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank you.
Our bilateral trade at the moment is not at such a high level, unfortunately, but there are some very promising big joint projects we can carry out.
Russian companies are expanding their activities in Iraq now. There are many big energy companies operating there now, not just Russian companies, but international giants too. I hope our companies will continue steadily expanding their activities, and we hope very much for your support, Mr Prime Minister.
We are continuing our contacts in the humanitarian sphere too. I think we have around 150 students from Iraq currently studying at Russian universities. We could take big steps forward in military technical cooperation too.
I am very pleased of course that you accepted our invitation to come here and that we have this opportunity to discuss the situation in the region in general.
It is a great pleasure to see you and I wish you welcome, Mr Prime Minister.
NOURI AL-MALIKI: Thank you.
We have already had the chance to exchange views on opportunities for developing our bilateral relations with the Prime Minister [Dmitry Medvedev] and the Russian delegation. We agreed to set several priority cooperation areas and have the specific ministries draw up detailed plans.
These sectors are above all oil and gas, electricity, trade, investment, and construction. As I said, we will give the relevant instructions to the ministers concerned and draft detailed plans based on our common political will to strengthen and develop our bilateral ties.
Your Excellency, I think that we could also develop cooperation in security and military affairs. We should also exchange our latest views and assessments of the regional situation and other issues of mutual interest.
Thank you for the attention you pay to developing our bilateral relations in all areas, including the humanitarian sphere. You mentioned just now that Iraqi students are studying at Russian universities. They are very positive in their accounts of their time spent here in Russia. I think the number of Iraqi students coming here will grow. We, at any rate, are interested in making this happen.
As far as other new opportunities for all-round development of our relations go, we were interested to hear the news that it might be possible to begin direct flights between Russia and Iraq.
Once more, thank you very much.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: There are a few other matters I would like to discuss during today’s meeting. I think that if we could lift the some restrictions on our reciprocal trade, it would grow a lot faster. I will address this in more detail later.
NOURI AL-MALIKI: As far as Iraq is concerned, these restrictions have already been lifted.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Let’s talk about this now.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]