BAGHDAD — Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Friday that Baghdad is interested in Russian companies’ investments in Iraq and in expanding their presence in the country.

“The Russian companies have a great experience in cooperation with Iraq and Baghdad calls for expanding the role of Russian companies in the Iraqi market,” Maliki said during a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

“The Iraqi government called for boosting bilateral relations with Moscow in economic, security and political fields,” Maliki added.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was to receive Maliki on Friday. A source in the Kremlin staff said on the list of issues to be discussed is the possibility of joint development of oil and gas fields, the laying of pipelines and construction of electric power plants.

“The summit-level talks will revolve mostly around ways of stepping up practical Russian-Iraqi cooperation,” the high-ranking Kremlin source said. “In that connection, of special importance is the question of expanding the role of Russian companies in the implementation of major projects in the oil and gas complex, electric power production and other spheres, in view of the vast cooperation experience accumulated over years.”

According to the official, several major Russian companies are prepared to operate on the Iraqi market, such as Lukoil, Zarubezhneft, Stroitransgaz, Tekhnopromexport, Tatneft, SoyuzNefteGaz and others.

Medvedev plans to discuss with Maliki the question of stabilization in Iraq, and in the Gulf area in general, in the context of the Russian concept of maintaining security in that region of the word, and other regional problems, the source said. Measures to expand cooperation in education, science and culture will be touched upon, too.

Maliki, who is in Russia on his first visit, was invited by Prime Minister Putin, with whom he will hold talks on Saturday, too.

Maliki had said in an interview with Itar-Tass news agency that he would bring with him to Moscow a major package of specific proposals for joint projects in the economy and other spheres.

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