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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia and Iraq Sign Alliance

The Russian and Iraqi transport ministries signed a cooperation agreement Thursday, while an Iraqi delegation was in Russia to consider buying aircraft, medical and communication equipment.

The agreement calls for cooperation in auto, air, water and railway transportation, Russian Transport Minister Sergei Frank said, according to Interfax. It also outlines methods of transporting goods that Iraq buys from Russia under the UN food-for-oil program, Frank said.

Under that program, Iraq is allowed to sell limited quantities of oil to buy food and medicine - an exception to a UN-mandated economic embargo. But Iraq maintains that it also has the right to buy other goods under the program, Interfax said.

The Iraqi delegation, led by Transport and Communications Minister Ahmad Murtada Ahmad, visited an aircraft producer, a shipyard, a railroad equipment manufacturer and other companies in Russia's Nizhny Novgorod region earlier this week.

The visitors also negotiated a deal to buy 7,200 Russian-made cars, Interfax reported. It wasn't clear whether the deal was to be implemented while the UN sanctions are still in place.

Nizhny Novgorod has prepared $2 billion-worth of contracts for the sale of civilian planes and ships to Iraq, Interfax reported.

Any contracts under the oil-for-food program must be approved by the UN Security Council.

Russia has consistently called for lifting the trade sanctions against Iraq, and is eager to take advantage of its friendly trade relations with Saddam Hussein's government.