Russia's Defense Minister says his country would consider sending troops to Iraq to take part in peacekeeping operations, but only under certain conditions.
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov says any decision on whether to send Russian troops to Iraq will depend on whatever resolution the U.N. Security Council may adopt.
Mr. Ivanov says Russia wants to see a unanimous resolution that would grant the United Nations more control over the situation in Iraq.
In comments to reporters while attending military exercises in southern Russia, the defense chief added that Russia wants the United Nations to have real influence in Iraq.
Mr. Ivanov's comments follow Russia's Foreign Ministry saying Moscow wants a new Iraqi-led government to take power in Iraq as soon as possible. In a carefully worded statement, the ministry said such a government would be the best way to help restore peace in the country.
Russia strongly opposed the U.S.-led war against Iraq, and Moscow has long insisted that the United Nations play a greater role in the process of rebuilding the country. But since the war, President Vladimir Putin has tried to mend fences with Washington over Iraq policy.
Mr. Putin is due to meet with President Bush later this month in the United States, when the issue of Iraq is sure to be discussed.
On Wednesday, the United States announced it would propose a new resolution calling for an increased U.N. role in Iraq for consideration by the Security Council. But the United States wants to retain control over the peacekeeping force.
Diplomats say a lot of negotiations are ahead before the council could approve any new Iraq resolution.