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#2 - JRL 7225
Financial Express (India)
June 17, 2003
Russia Plans Embargo On Iraqi Oil Shipments
Huma Siddiqui

New Delhi, June 16: Russia is preparing to enforce embargo on oil shipments on high seas if its interests are not protected in any future Iraqi dispensation by the coalition forces.

Sources said a recent Indo-Russian exercises in the Arabian sea was a hint and preparation for such a plan. At the time when Russia carried out the joint naval exercises, the Americans were also present. With this, Russians wanted not only to display their naval strength but also prove that India is still a close ally, said a senior official in the ministry of external affairs.

According to the Russian officials, Russia has never doubted Indias role as one of its key strategic partners. The recent joint naval exercises have come up as a stride toward an ever-closer strategic alliance, which is being evaluated as highly bilateral security partnership.

Russian officials said that in conditions of the quickly changing situation in the world the importance of the Russian-Indian partnership is sharply growing. Both countries, they said, express concern over a dangerous tendency for unilateral actions in international relations and come out for building a multi-polar democratic world.

Russia and India attach great importance to strengthening security and cooperation in the Asian-Pacific region, come out for further raising the role of the Asean regional forum on issues of security as an important instrument of the multilateral political dialogue in the region, said officials.

The US-run Iraqi administration had few weeks back cancelled three oil contracts with Russian and Chinese firms.

This followed after the US-appointed de facto Iraqi oil minister Thamir Ghadhbans announcement that all pre-war contracts signed by the Saddam Hussein government would be re-evaluated and new deals announced soon.

French, Russian and Chinese companies had won contracts in the recent years for work in Iraq. Their governments had opposed the American war plans at the United Nations Security Council.

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