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Putin Praises Turkey's Defiant Posture on US Troops - 2003-03-04

Russian President Vladimir Putin has hailed Turkey's unwillingness to allow the United States to use Turkish soil in the event of an attack on Iraq.

In a meeting with cabinet members at the Kremlin Tuesday, Mr. Putin said Turkey could hardly be expected to make any other decision.

Meanwhile, Russia's deputy foreign minister, Yury Fedotov, has voiced his opposition to a draft U.N. resolution jointly sponsored by Spain, Britain and the United States, that would open the way for war against Iraq. Mr. Fedotov described the proposed resolution as "unfounded," "unjustified," and "out of touch with reality."

His comments come just days before the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix, is due to present a new report on Iraq's compliance with U.N. demands that it account for its weapons of mass destruction.

Russia, France and Germany have opposed military action against Iraq, saying weapons inspectors should be given more time to carry out their work in Iraq.

Mr. Fedotov noted that Russia has veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council. But he stressed that he hoped Russia would not have to exercise that right.

Another top Russian official was also busy Tuesday in the effort to prevent military action against Iraq. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov phoned his French and German counterparts to discuss Iraqi efforts to meet U.N. demands that it disarm.

Mr. Ivanov is scheduled to travel to London later on Tuesday for talks on Iraq with his British counterpart, Jack Straw. Wednesday, he heads to Paris, where he is expected to continue to press Russia's opposition to war.