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Russia, France, Germany Discuss Iraq Reconstruction

Russian President Vladimir Putin is holding two days of meetings on post-war reconstruction in Iraq with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac.

President Putin is meeting the German and French leaders separately, before heading into joint meetings late Friday in Saint Petersburg.

The three leaders were united in opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, and they are united again in believing that the reconstruction process in Iraq should be led by the United Nations. This marks another area of disagreement with the United States.

U.S. officials say that the United Nations can play a part in the post-war reconstruction process, but that the lead role will be reserved for members of the coalition that are fighting the war.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov warned ministers from the Commonwealth of Independent states (CIS) that they should learn the lessons of what he called, "the Iraq tragedy." Mr. Ivanov said the key lesson is that Russia and the CIS should work together to create a multi-polar world, with the United Nations playing a lead role.