"Russia warns of veto on Iraq"

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Posted by Lilly from ? ( on Tuesday, September 03, 2002 at 11:32AM :

Monday, 2 September, 2002, 18:54 GMT 19:54 UK
BBC News Online
Russia warns of veto on Iraq

Ivanov: Iraq poses no threat to the US

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has said he hopes Russia will not have to use its UN Security Council veto to head off American military action against Iraq.
"We hope that the issue will not go before the Security Council... and a Russian veto will not be necessary," he said after talks with Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri in Moscow.

Mr Ivanov warned that a US attack on Iraq could destabilise the Middle East.

The Iraqi minister's visit to Russia is part of Baghdad's drive to thwart a possible US military strike.

Russia could not see "a single well-founded argument that Iraq represents a threat to US national security", Mr Ivanov said.

"Any decision to use force against Iraq would not only complicate an Iraqi settlement but also undermine the situation in the Gulf and the Middle East," he said.

Moscow has been a strong supporter of Washington's post-11 September "war on terror" but has close links to Iraq.

Talks with Annan

Iraq and Russia recently agreed to sign an economic co-operation deal worth up to $60bn.

It will include new projects as well as the modernisation of Soviet-built infrastructure in Iraq.

Sabri's talks are part of a diplomatic offensive

Washington has warned that Moscow's diplomatic standing could be eroded because of its relations with regimes such as that in Iraq.

Mr Ivanov said Moscow welcomed the continuation of talks between Iraq and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan which, he hoped, would result in the return of weapons inspectors and the lifting of international sanctions.

Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tareq Aziz, told journalists in Johannesburg that he would meet Mr Annan on Tuesday.

'First step'

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that if Iraq allows UN inspectors back in to complete their assessment of its weapons industry, it will be a "first step".

The comment came after Vice-President Dick Cheney said there was no point in sending weapons inspectors back into Iraq and argued forcefully for military action.

Mr Powell said the US also needed to present evidence of its suspicions about the threat posed by Iraq to the international community so that an informed judgement could be made about possible military action.

Dr Mudhaffar Amin, the Iraqi representative in London, told the BBC on Monday that Iraq would welcome UN weapon inspectors but needed top work out an agenda for them.

"We really have to sit and work out the agenda for their work," he said.

Appeal to Bush Senior

America's statements on Iraq continue to attract international criticism.

Former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa said on Monday he was "appalled".

"What they are introducing is chaos in international affairs and we condemn that in the strongest terms," Mr Mandela said in Johannesburg.

"We are really appalled by any country whether it is a superpower or a poor country that goes outside the United Nations and attacks independent countries."

The former South African leader said he had contacted President George W Bush's father - George Bush Senior - and asked that he raise the matter with his son.

-- Lilly
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