Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder start two days of talks in St. Petersburg Friday. The agenda is expected to focus on post-war redevelopment in Iraq and specifically on the role of the United Nations in the process.
A senior Kremlin official says the three main European opponents of the U.S.-led war in Iraq already agree that the post-war reconstruction process should be led by the United Nations.
But the deputy chief of President Putin's administration told Russia's Interfax news agency Friday that what remains to be worked out is how to ensure that goal is achieved, while at the same time cooperating with the United States and Britain.
The United States has said the United Nations can play a part in the post-war reconstruction process, but it stresses coalition nations will have a leading role.
Russia, France and Germany want to see the United Nations assume the central role in building a post-war Iraq and were united in opposing the war, favoring extended international weapons inspections and continued diplomacy.
Apart from Iraq, the Kremlin aide says the three leaders also will discuss the standoff over North Korea's nuclear program.