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Iraq extends period for creditor claims

Romanian FM speaks

The Romanian Foreign Minister Razvan Ungureanu said, regarding the $2.6bn debt claimed from Iraq, "We're not trying to take the money out in bulk but gradually. If there is a possibility of creating an investment fund that would help major Romanian companies to invest in the Iraqi economy...it would help us a lot." He gave no details of how such an arrangement would work and said more talks were needed to reach an agreement. "We're waiting for a bilateral answer from the Iraqis, we had a round of negotiations in mid December 2004 and we have decided that the experts meet and find a solution." He added Romania might ask for third party mediation if no agreement was possible. "It's easier for us... to start working first on a bilateral basis and see then, if it doesn't work, there might be another possibility, a chance of engaging a third party, such as the World Bank." (Antonia Oprita, Reuters Bucharest)

Iraq extends period for creditor claims

The Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Iraq today announced that Iraq is extending until 15 April 2005 the period for submission of claims by any commercial creditors (including financial institution creditors) who believe they may be a creditor of Iraq. In light of the volume of submissions received so far, Iraq has agreed to this request from parties that are still compiling and preparing the necessary documentation.

Lukoil expects W.Qurna

Vagit Alekperov, President of Russian oil company Lukoil, told an energy conference in Houston yestarday. "We are in dialogue with the Iraqi government right now." regarding regaining access to the West Qurna oilfield which Saddam had initially given and then withdrawn access to. "We are hopeful that in the immediate future the Iraqi government will approve the implementation of our project." Russia has in the past quite explicitly tried to tie Paris Club debt relief with concessions for Lukoil and other companies.

Interestingly the Lebanon Daily Star notes today that "On Jan 25 Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin announced a write-off of $9.8 billion worth of Syrian debt, or 73% of remaining stock. In exchange, the Kremlin may have obtained oil concession rights. After all, Assad came to Moscow accompanied by his oil minister, Ibrahim Haddad. A report released by Petroleum Argus on Feb. 4 mentions two oil blocks on the Iraqi border (blocks 12 and 14) likely to end up with [Russian company] Soyuzneftegaz."


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