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Russia Ready to Work with UN on Iraq Resolution - 2002-10-16

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is ready to work with other U.N. members to come up with a new resolution on Iraq, if necessary.

Mr. Putin says it is important to take into consideration the concerns of all the countries of the international community when discussing Iraq.

Mr. Putin said Russia is willing to negotiate a new resolution to guarantee the work of weapons inspectors in Iraq.

Russia has been gradually moving toward a position that would allow for a new Security Council resolution.

But Russia continues to oppose the British and U.S. effort to have a new resolution authorize the use of force if Iraq does not comply. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov told the Interfax news service that approach is not acceptable to Russia.

France also rejects the U.S. and British approach, and has put forward a draft resolution designed to provide more access for the inspectors, while letting the council decide later what to do if Iraq does not comply. Mr. Fedotov said Russia supports that approach, but President Putin stopped short of endorsing any specific draft.

The United States and Britain say Iraq has failed to cooperate fully with weapons inspectors in the past. They also claim Iraq has been developing weapons of mass destruction. President Putin said last week he has seen no evidence of that.

But he says the concerns of the international community regarding Iraq can and should be removed through the work of the inspectors. He added that the inspectors should be sent to Iraq as soon as possible.

Mr. Putin made his comments as he met with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Moscow.

Russia, France, Britain, and the United States, along with China, are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council with veto power over any new resolution.