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Putin sceptical over Iraq polls

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Putin sceptical over Iraq polls

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The Russian president has expressed deep scepticism over plans to hold elections in Iraq while foreign troops remain.

The comments – made during a Kremlin meeting with interim Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi – are Vladimir Putin’s strongest yet on the issue. “I honestly say that I cannot imagine how elections can be organised under a full occupation of the country by foreign troops,” he said, adding, “I also cannot imagine how you, on your own, will be able to restore the situation in the country and stop it from breaking up.” Russia had close economic ties with Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Allawi told Putin his recent pledge to write off 90 per cent of Iraq’s debt would help ensure Russia would play a leading role in the country’s reconstruction.