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Iraqi PM urges Romanian president to help boost oil sector

Wed Aug 9, 1:08 PM ET

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki met with visiting Romanian President Traian Basescu and urged him to help develop Iraq's dilapidated oil sector.

"Romania can play an important role in the development of the upstream and downstream oil sector in order to increase Iraq's exports and cover the domestic needs of derivatives," Maliki's office quoted him as saying Wednesday after the meeting.

The statement said Maliki also felt that Bucharest can help in the development of the agricultural sector.

Meanwhile, Basescu said the Romanian military's presence in Iraq would depend on the "wish of the Iraqi government," the statement said.

Romania has around 890 soldiers serving in the international coalition in Iraq.

The statement said the visiting leader expressed the wish that Romania's role might be switched from a military one to assisting "in developing the Iraqi economy."

Basescu was in Baghdad at the invitation of his Iraqi counterpart, Jalal Talabani.

In June Romanian Prime Minister Calin Tariceanu made a surprise proposal to begin recalling Romanian troops, saying this followed European Union "logic."

But the proposal was rejected by Romania's supreme defence council, chaired by Basescu, which called it "unacceptable."

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