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[casi] Russia not ready to back Iraq attack

The Associated Press

MOSCOW (July 24, 2002 8:47 p.m. EDT) - Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov
has urged diplomatic solutions in the Iraqi crisis, warning that the U.N.
Security Council was moving to convince the public of the justification for
action against the Mideast country.

Ivanov told Rossiskaya Gazeta in an interview published Wednesday on the
newspaper's Web site that all signs point to increased U.S. activity around

"I think that in the Security Council, there might be some kind of activity
to prepare public opinion for a dangerous turn of events," he said. "But we
believe that the political and diplomatic potential for a settlement in Iraq
hasn't yet been exhausted."
Ivanov acknowledged that Iraq must in the "nearest future" accept U.N. arms
inspectors to verify that the country isn't producing weapons of mass

"Iraq should have the prospect of a lifting of the sanctions," he said.

The return of inspectors after more than three years is a key demand of the
United States, which has accused Iraq of trying to rebuild its banned
weapons programs and of supporting terrorism.
President Bush has warned Saddam that he faces unspecified consequences if
he fails to heed American demands for inspectors to re-enter Iraq.

Russia, which has pursued a pro-Western policy since the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks, also is a longtime ally of Iraq and has supported its push for
lifting U.N. economic sanctions in hopes that Baghdad could start paying off
its $7 billion Soviet-era debt and expand oil and other trade.

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