Posted by Tony from 63-93-69-75.lsan.dial.netzero.com (188.8.131.52) on Sunday, September 29, 2002 at 2:43AM :
Friday, Sep. 27, 2002. Page 3
Putin Calls for Quick Iraq Solution
Vladimir Putin, flanked by Igor Ivanov, accepting credentials Thursday from new Iraqi Ambassador Abbas Khalaf in the Kremlin.
President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called for a quick solution to the Iraqi crisis using political and diplomatic means and suggested no new United Nations resolutions were necessary.
"We favor a rapid resolution of the situation by political and diplomatic means, on the basis of existing UN Security Council regulations and in line with the principles of international law," Putin said as he accepted credentials from a group of new foreign emissaries to Moscow, including the ambassador from Iraq.
"The decision to resume the activities of UN inspectors in Iraq opens up the possibility for this decision to be put into action rapidly and allows the concerns of the international community to be allayed," Putin said.
Putin also discussed Iraq in telephone conversations with French President Jacques Chirac and European Commission head Romano Prodi on Thursday, the Kremlin press office said.
Iraq announced last week that it would accept the unconditional return of international inspectors nearly four years after they were forced out. Skeptical of Baghdad's intentions, the United States and Britain are pushing for a new UN resolution that would tighten the timetable for Iraq to comply with previous resolutions and authorize force if it fails to do so.
"We would hope for a political solution but cannot exclude the need to use force if Saddam Hussein continues to ignore his obligations to the UN Security Council," U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow told a news conference Thursday.
Russia, a longtime ally of Iraq and Security Council member that seeks to avoid a U.S. attack on Baghdad, had expressed solid opposition to the idea of a new resolution until this week. Two ministers indicated flexibility.
On Monday, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Russia would not necessarily oppose a new UN resolution aimed at making the work of UN weapons' inspectors more effective. On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Russia would be prepared for consultations.
The comments from Putin suggested that Russia would continue its opposition to a new resolution.
Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov echoed Putin's opposition to a new resolution after meeting with Christian Poncelet, the president of the French parliament. "Mr. Poncelet and I agreed that, first of all, it is necessary to make certain whether Iraq is developing weapons of mass destruction and only then make any international legal decisions about Iraq," he said.
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