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Russia Rejects British Proposal on Iraq - 2003-03-14

Russia's deputy foreign minister, Yuri Fedotov, has rejected a British proposal aimed at winning support for a U.S.-backed resolution on Iraq. Mr. Fedotov says the proposal, in Russia's view, still fails to address the main problem: how to prevent war against Iraq.

Not constructive were the words Mr. Fedotov used to describe the British proposal, which contains a series of conditions that Iraq must meet in order to avoid war.

Discussions on the proposal were scheduled to continue Friday at the United Nations in New York. But Mr. Fedotov says the failure to secure backing for the measure after two full days of talks confirms, in his view, that most security council members are opposed.

Mr. Fedotov says Russia's stance remains unchanged. He says Russian officials will not support any resolution based on ultimatums or that opens the way for automatic use of force against Iraq.

Permanent council members Russia and France believe continued international weapons inspections provide the best course to peace. Germany shares that view.

The diplomatic dispute has reportedly led U.S. officials to consider canceling the vote on the British compromise proposal.

A vote had been expected to take place early this week, but was then pushed back. Latest reports now indicate that if a vote comes at all, it will not be until next week.

Mr. Fedotov says Russia stands firm in its view that no new resolutions are needed and that the Iraq crisis can still be solved through peaceful means.

Meanwhile, Russian members of the environmental group Greenpeace staged an anti-war protest in downtown Moscow Friday. The members gathered to raise a large poster saying, Veto War, on a prominent span across the Moscow river. The police reportedly removed the poster a short while later.