Russian and Chinese officials have intensified their talks with their Iraqi counterparts in wake of the announcement that Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani was invited to visit the White House.
The Iraqi delegation at the United Nations General Assembly had received the invitation from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein when the invitation was made. He informed him that “Moscow was ready to welcome Sudani within a few weeks.”
In fact, Russia had first invited Sudani to visit Moscow back in July, said a statement by the Russian Ambassador in Baghdad Elbrus Kutrashev.
Russia was keen on confirming the invitation as Iran upped its pressure on Iraqi officials “over issues that Sudani should bring up when he meets US President Joe Biden” at the White House.
A joint statement by Lavrov and Hussein said Sudani’s visit to Moscow would be an opportunity to discuss political and economic issues of common interest.
A leading member of the pro-Iran Coordination Framework in Iraq told Asharq Al-Awsat that Moscow has increased its activity in the country in recent months.
It is in alignment with Tehran over the need to “neutralize” western investment projects in the region, explained the official.
Back in January, Hussein said relations between Iraq and Russia were strong in spite of the sanctions on Moscow and the criticism against it over its conflict with Ukraine.
Some 50 Russian companies operate in Iraq in developing oil fields and exploring and drilling for oil.