Russia boosts ties with Iraq in challenge to U.S. influence

Russia is ready to sell civil airliners to Iraq and keep providing it with military aid to fight Islamic State, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Thursday, accompanied on a trip to Baghdad by the biggest Russian delegation in years.

The mission by nearly 100 government and business officials was part of a drive by Moscow to strengthen commercial and security ties with Iraq, potentially eroding U.S. influence in one of the world’s most critical regions.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said discussions had revolved around providing military assistance to defeat Islamic State militants, also known as Daesh, who seized a third of Iraq in 2014 and want to redraw the map of the Middle East.

“We need international support from multiple sources, be it from within the international coalition or outside of it,” he said, referring to the U.S.-led coalition which has launched thousands of airstrikes and provided training and advice to Iraq’s military.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-russia-idUSKCN0VK288

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