Russian deputy foreign affairs minister, Alexander Saltanov, said in mid-December that Moscow was ready to consider easing Iraq’s debt burden. ‘As far as debts are concerned, this problem was obviously discussed,’ Saltanov said. ‘We are ready to consider this issue constructively, understanding the importance of easing the debt burden which the Iraqi people now face.’ US government figures indicate that Iraq owes about $8,000 million to Russia (MEED 16:12:03).