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War on Iraq Could Bring Instability, Says Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned a meeting of top security officials from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) that the U.S.-led war against Iraq brings increased risk of instability in other regions, including the CIS.

The Russian president hosted members of the Collective Security Treaty, a loose grouping of former Soviet republics, at the Kremlin on Friday.

During the meeting, President Putin reiterated Russia's view that the war against Iraq might trigger unpredictable consequences, including increased extremism. Mr. Putin also stressed that the goal of the regional organization is to minimize such threats.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov says Russia and other countries will ask the United Nations' legal arm to issue a ruling on the legality of the U.S.-led war on Iraq.

Mr. Ivanov says that in Russia's view, the United States acted without appropriate U.N. authorization.

Mr. Ivanov said Russia would forward the proposal with other countries. But he did not elaborate.

The proposal was approved Friday during a meeting of Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma.

President Putin has said that now that war has broken out, Russia will do all it can to return the Iraq issue to a peaceful mechanism like the United Nations. He has characterized the U.S. move to war as a big political mistake.

Earlier, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement expressed concern that the war on Iraq could complicate diplomatic efforts toward resolving the conflict over North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

The statement came as Russia's deputy foreign minister, Georgy Mamedov, welcomed the South Korean ambassador to Moscow earlier in the day. The two officials discussed the ongoing attack against Iraq and how it might affect global security.