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Blair, Putin to Work on Repairing Britain-Russia Relations - 2003-04-28

British Prime Minister Tony Blair goes to Moscow Tuesday for talks on Iraq with President Vladimir Putin. They will discuss how to find a role for the United Nations in Iraq, after the split over the war.

Mr. Blair told a news conference in London his trip to Moscow is part of an effort to repair the damage at the United Nations caused by the war in Iraq.

"We will obviously discuss the role of the United Nations in relation to Iraq, and also how we make sure we proceed in a better way in the United Nations, over coming months, than we have up to now," said Mr. Blair. "My contacts with both other Europeans and with President Putin lead me believe there is a better atmosphere developing, and I hope we can resolve these issues and make sure that the United Nations is given its proper role. I think with goodwill this can be done and sorted, and I look forward, obviously, to the discussion I will be having with President Putin on this issue."

Mr. Blair also said it would be disastrous if the differences over Iraq spawn a new Cold War-style division between Europe and the United States. "My fear is that if we do not deal with the world on the basis of a partnership between Europe and America, then we will, in a sense, put back into the world the divisions that we wanted to get rid of when the Cold War finished," he said, "and I think that would just be a disaster."

Mr. Blair said it would be dangerous if Europe and the United States become rival centers of power. He said Britain, France, Germany, and other European nations need to debate what their relationship with the United States should be.