Russia and the United States appear no closer to an agreement on a U.N. resolution allowing the use of military force against Iraq. A top U.S. diplomat met Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and other top officials Saturday in Moscow. Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman apparently did not win support for the U.S. proposal.
U.S. envoy Marc Grossman told reporters in Moscow late Saturday he was pleased that Russia, like other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, believes Iraq poses a challenge that has to be resolved.
But Mr. Grossman came away from the talks much as he began, without Russian approval of a new U.S.-British draft resolution reportedly calling for the use of force, if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein fails to comply with U.N. weapons inspections.
The U.S. envoy played down that fact, saying agreement on the text had never been the aim. He says he and his British colleagues mainly sought to familiarize Russia with the draft.
Russian officials repeated an earlier statement saying the top priority should be getting U.N. weapons inspectors back to Baghdad as quickly as possible.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko earlier said that Russian experts were continuing to examine Britain's report alleging Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. But so far, Russian officials say they have yet to see clear proof Iraq holds an arsenal of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly called for a solution to the Iraq problem on the basis of existing U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The U.S. envoy arrived in Moscow from Paris, where he faced similar resistance to the draft resolution. Iraq has already said it will not accept it, should it be approved.
Russia, France and China, all permanent members of the U.N. Security Council with veto power are strongly opposed to the use of force against Iraq. The United States and Britain say force should be used, if necessary.