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Syria Planning Reconstruction Conference, Reaching Out to the BRICS and Other Friendly Countries

April 26, 2016 (EIRNS)—The government of Syria is already moving into a reconstruction phase, especially seeking cooperation with Russia and the other countries of the BRICS. There are even plans in the making for a reconstruction conference where representatives of BRICS and other friendly countries would, hopefully, participate. Extensive discussions are also being held with various Russian authorities for aid in reconstruction of the war-torn country.

In an interview with RIA Novosti, Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi, expressed his country’s desire to expand wide-ranging cooperation with Russia in both reconstruction and long-term economic development, according to Sputnik. He revealed that Syria and Russia have signed agreements worth €850 million to restore infrastructure.

"The Russian side was receptive to the idea of restoring infrastructure; accordingly a number of deals were signed," RIA Novosti quoted al-Halqi as saying.

Al-Halqi also said Syria wants to become a hub for the promotion of Russian economic activity in the entire region.

"We would like Syria to be considered not only within its geographical boundaries of its relatively limited economic market, but as a center for the expansion and promotion of companies and industrial products in the entire Middle East region. Syria, with its geographical advantages, is capable of becoming a developed commercial and industrial center for Russian companies in the markets of the Middle East,"

the prime minister said.

Al-Halqi reminded his interviewer that since July, Moscow and Damascus have discussed the possibility of Syria forming a free trade zone with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and its customs-free zone.

While Syria will begin the process of trying to get the Western financial sanctions against it lifted, al-Halqi said, Syria is very interested in opening a joint Russian-Syrian bank with an equity participation of 50% by each side that would be controlled by each country’s central banks.

He also said Syria will prepare detailed proposals for establishing mechanisms for conducting bilateral trade in national currencies.

As for energy cooperation, al-Halqi said,

"the Petroleum Ministry has prepared strategic projects in the field of energy, gas and oil in land and sea, and it has presented proposals to companies from friendly countries, mainly Russia."

He said his government has already given approval to Russian companies to take part in setting up and developing the oil refineries in Syria in addition to building joint refineries in cooperation with Iran and Venezuela.

Another area of cooperation is the field of communications and high technology.

"We welcome this cooperation with Russian companies," al-Halqi said.

"Russian companies have the experience, knowledge and technical ability to provide these services, have channels of contact between the Ministry of Communications of Syria, its various divisions, and Russian firms. We, in turn, provide all possible support and encourage this cooperation."

The official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reports that Deputy Director General of the Syrian Investment Agency Dr. Inas al-Omawi held discussions on April 25 with the Russian Commercial Attaché in Damascus, Igor Matveyev, where he revealed his agency’s intention to hold a conference for reconstruction as part of seeking new partners from the BRICS and other friendly countries. The conference would discuss prospects of investment and trade exchange and ways of cooperation to implement short- and medium-term joint investment in Syria.

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