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Friday, 13 September, 2002, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Russia seeks 'diplomatic solution' on Iraq
Vladimir Putin and George Bush
Despite the smiles, Putin and Bush have differences

Russia has reiterated its opposition to a possible US attack on Iraq.

Commenting on President George W Bush's speech at the United Nations, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said Moscow agrees with him on the need to fight global terrorism - but it believes the central role should be played by the UN.


Observers believe President Putin's ultimatum to Georgia was meant mainly for American consumption

Diplomatic and political efforts to resolve the stand-off between Washington and Baghdad have not been exhausted yet, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Moscow.

Russia insists there should be international consensus on how to deal with Iraq because - it says - the future of the international coalition against terror is at stake.

Russia is concerned about risking its economic interests in Iraq. But it is also worried about wider political implications of a possible US strike.

Moscow believes it would destabilise the whole region, which is close to Russia's troublesome southern borders.

Diplomatic gamble

By way of stepping up pressure on the United States, Russia suggested a quid pro quo.

Georgian soldiers in the Pankisi gorge
Russia has hinted at military strikes against Georgia
Observers believe President Putin's ultimatum to Georgia to root out "international terrorists" or face Russian action was meant mainly for American consumption.

The US State Department has reacted by reiterating Washington's support for Georgia's territorial integrity, and opposition to Russia's unilateral action.

But that is exactly what Moscow is trying to put across to Washington regarding Iraq.

And that is what, apparently, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will tell US Secretary of State Colin Powell when they meet on Friday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

A good indication that Moscow is hoping for its diplomatic gamble to pay off is the Russian parliament's intention to postpone the debate on Iraq until after the Foreign Minister returns from America, and briefs the deputies on his efforts.


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See also:

13 Sep 02 | Middle East
11 Sep 02 | Americas
13 Sep 02 | Middle East
02 Sep 02 | Middle East
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