Russian President Vladimir Putin stays next to Russian and Ukranian flags prior a meeting with his Ukranian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko in Astana, Jan. 11, 2006.
MOSCOW — Russia's President Vladimir Putin is pushing for closer energy and military cooperation with Iraq.
Putin said during Wednesday's talks with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that Russia's oil companies are willing to expand their operations in Iraq. He urged al-Maliki to ease company registration procedures and simplify other requirements to help boost ties.
Al-Maliki said that Iraq is also willing to develop military and security cooperation with Russia.
Iraq is seeking foreign investment to develop vast natural resources after decades of war, U.N. sanctions and neglect. It also has voiced interest in buying weapons from Moscow, which supplied billions of dollars worth of weapons to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Russia's private oil giant Lukoil is developing the 12.9 billion-barrel West Qurna Phase 2 field in southern Iraq.