7 December 2004 -- Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi today told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia will be given a "leading role" in the reconstruction of Iraq in return for its decision to cancel thousands of millions of dollars of debts.
Allawi said during talks with Putin in Moscow that this would be reflected in the allocation of government contracts in future.
Russia has agreed to write off 90 percent of Iraq's debts, which according to local media reports stand at $8.5 billion in state debts and $1.5 billion in commercial debts.
Russian oil companies hope to revive major projects that were suspended before the fall of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's government.
Russia has also lined itself up to equip Iraqi armed forces that have traditionally used its weapons.
(dpa/AFP)[For more on events in Iraq, see RFE/RL's dedicated "The New Iraq" webpage.]