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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 March, 2003, 12:58 GMT
Russia seeks UN ruling on Iraq
US Marines in Iraq
Russia says the war with Iraq is illegal
Russia has called for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to examine the legality of the US-led war with Iraq.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said Russia and other countries would ask the UN's legal department for a ruling on the conflict.

He said the US-led coalition had acted "in violation of the norms of international law" by failing to secure a fresh UN resolution sanctioning war.

Russia, together with fellow Security Council members France and Germany, led the opposition to American attempts earlier this month to persuade the 15-member group to back the use of force against Iraq.

Humanitarian consequences

Mr Fedotov said Russia wanted the council to "give all necessary political and legal assessments of the current situation and take a relevant decision corresponding to its powers".

The United States and Britain argued that existing UN resolutions on Iraq provided a legal basis for the use of force if Saddam Hussein did not peacefully relinquish his alleged weapons of mass destruction.

But they had nonetheless sought a further resolution specifically sanctioning the use of force - a move which Russia, France and China - all permanent members of the Security Council - threatened to block.

Mr Fedotov said the US also had to take responsibility for the humanitarian consequences of their actions.

He said the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva was considering holding a special session on the situation in Iraq.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Gillian Ni Cheallaigh
"Russia repeated its demand for the conflict to end"





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