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RUSSIA and Iraq

France and Russia both have considerable interests in Iraq. The US are at odds over a number of points, one being French charges that the US government had lied in leaking stories that France had misused passports by granting them to Iraqi war criminals. The latest on this is the alleged discovery by US troops in Iraq of a cache of French passports for Iraqi Baath members. The truth will out sooner or later. US relations with Russia were much more cordial, and Russia took the initiative in drafting a solution to the lack of consensus in the UN. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that a new UN resolution on Iraq had to include provisions on peacekeeping forces and details on how to remove sanctions, Interfax Ukraine news agency reported (05/21/03). "It is vital to adopt a resolution that will reflect the means for lifting sanctions as well as the issues in deploying peacekeeping forces," Ivanov told students in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, according to Interfax. Ivanov made his comments after the US presented a new version of a proposed resolution to the UN Security Council calling for the lifting of a decade-old sanctions regime on Iraq. It also provides for a six-month extension to the UN-run "oil-for-food" program, under which Iraq has obtained vital goods from proceeds of oil sales. Russia opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq, undertaken without UN endorsement, and has been reluctant to agree to any new resolution on postwar matters until UN arms inspectors are able to declare the country free of banned weapons. Ivanov, due to meet President Leonid Kuchma later in the day, left open the possibility that Russia might take part in any peacekeeping operation. "Many states are saying now that they are ready to take part in one or another operation in Iraq, including peacekeeping missions, but this must be on the basis of a UN decision," he said.

Ronald Hilton - 5/24/03