Russia's foreign minister says his country does not believe the U.N. Security Council should pass a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq at this time.
Calling the use of force an extreme measure with grave consequences, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said there are no grounds for the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution allowing a military operation in Iraq.
Rather, he said, there is still time for a political solution to end the crisis.
The foreign minister said Russia fully supports the international inspectors currently in Iraq trying to discover if that country still has weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Ivanov says Russia would consider a new resolution to ensure that the weapons inspectors can do their jobs.
He also said Iraq must provide maximum cooperation to the international inspectors.
His comments come as U.S. officials, including President Bush, are saying Iraq is nearly out of time to cooperate with weapons inspectors, and could face military action soon.
The Iraq issue is expected to be one of the main topics on the agenda when Russian President Vladimir Putin meets on Monday with French President Jacques Chirac in France. Both countries oppose military action against Iraq, at least for now, and both are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and, as such, could veto any proposed resolution on Iraq.