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Belarusian FM Visits Iraq First Time Since Saddam's Ouster

The Belarusian foreign minister has visited Iraq for the first time since Saddam Hussein's ouster in 2003.

The Foreign Ministry says Uladzimer Makey was accompanied by senior officials from Belarus's Ministry of Industry and representatives of state oil company Belneftekhim during his August 23-24 visit.

Makey met with Iraqi President Fuad Masum, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, parliament speaker Salim al-Jaburi, and other officials.

The sides discussed bilateral relations and parliamentary ties as well as cooperation in trade and the oil industry, including the possibility of delivery of Belarusian equipment for the oil industry.

Companies from many countries are seeking involvement in the oil industy in Iraq, which hopes to triple producution capacity by 2020 but is struggling against an Islamist insurgency in the north..

In 2002, Belarus denied media reports that alleged it sold weapons to Iraq in violation of international sanctions.

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