(Photo Credit: AFP)
The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Baghdad on 5 February for talks with the spokesperson of his Iraqi counterpart, Ahmed al-Sahhaf, to discuss food security, energy, and exchange views on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
According to Sahhaf, the Russian foreign minister led a delegation of “oil and gas companies investors” to Iraq and was received by his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein, Baghdad’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, and the Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid, on 6 February.
Al-Sahhaf remarked that Lavrov’s visit “confirms Iraq’s openness to all of its partners and friends,” adding the Baghdad is eager to attract more investment, specifically in the field of energy. He also reiterated that the two foreign ministers would discuss regional and international developments, as well as determine avenues to secure regional security.
Lavrov said during his meeting with the Iraqi prime minister that Russian President Vladimir Putin sends his warm regards and is currently preparing to meet with him.
He further noted that Baghdad favored “any dialogue making it possible to defuse this escalation and alleviate crises … particularly in the food and energy sectors.”
This meeting comes nearly a year after the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which resulted in western sanctions imposed on Russia and the creation of the global energy crisis. Since its start, Iraq has reached out to regional countries to expand joint cooperation in the energy sector to alleviate the severe effects of the crisis.
Last week, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud visited Baghdad to reemphasize the countries’ bilateral relations and discuss economic developments in Iraq.
During a joint press conference held between the Iraqi foreign minister and his Saudi counterpart, Hussein said that Iraq hopes they “will be supplied with electricity, either via the Saudi network or in the Gulf.”
Iraq has been working on a shared electrical power grid with Saudi Arabia. In January 2022, Iraq and Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum to link their electricity grids. On 15 July 2022, a deal was signed between the Saudi Electricity Company and the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity.
The project is set to establish an interconnection between Arar in northern Saudi Arabia and Yusufiya near Baghdad. The 435-kilometer-long electrical link is projected to have a transmission capacity of 1,000 megawatts and 400 voltage kilovolts.
According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the kingdom is aiming for “optimal investment in the electrical connection with Iraq.”