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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Mulls Canceling Iraqi Debt

Moscow is ready to begin negotiations with Iraq on canceling a significant amount of its multibillion dollar debt, a senior Russian diplomat said Saturday.

"We ... are prepared to have the debt significantly reduced and also to reach agreements on the repayment of the remaining part of the debt," Deputy Foreign Minister Yury Fedotov told Interfax.

President Vladimir Putin said last year that Russia in principle would be willing to write off more than half of Iraq's $8 billion debt to Moscow through the Paris Club of creditor nations, an informal group of creditor governments from major industrialized countries.

Fedotov said negotiations have not yet begun.

"But we are willing to talk either with the existing Iraqi government or with the one to come to power via elections, which we hope will take place on time in January next year," Fedotov was quoted as saying.

Russia, which opposed the U.S.-led invasion, has adamantly refused to send peacekeepers to Iraq, instead offering to contribute to Iraq's reconstruction through economic assistance and personnel training.

Fedotov said that Russian businesses were also interested in regaining lost ground in Iraq.