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Russia, US Continue to Disagree on UN Iraq Resolution - 2003-05-14

After a day of talks with Russian leaders in Moscow, Secretary of State Colin Powell says differences remain over a draft Security Council resolution on the future of Iraq.

Secretary Powell said the United States and Russia still have "outstanding issues" on the U.S.-backed draft resolution. But Mr. Powell said the two sides would be working closely to settle their differences in the days ahead.

Mr. Powell was seeking support for the draft resolution, which would lift the sanctions imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, outline a plan for the sale of Iraqi oil and define other aspects of Iraq's reconstruction and transition to democracy.

Russia has voiced opposition to the draft, saying U.N. weapons inspectors must be allowed back into Iraq to certify that the country is free of weapons of mass destruction before sanctions can be lifted.

But at the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he does not want to see disagreement over Iraq sidetrack U.S.-Russian relations.

President Putin had less to say in public on the subject of Iraq than Secretary Powell did. The Russian president chose to focus on what he hopes will be a boost in bilateral relations when he meets with President Bush in St. Petersburg at the end of the month.

President Putin said Moscow and Washington could continue to cooperate in resolving problems in other crisis spots like Afghanistan and North Korea, and in the fight against global terrorism.

President Putin also said that despite Russia's opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, the U.S.-Russian relationship remains "very solid". And he highlighted the Russian Duma's ratification of a landmark nuclear arms reduction accord with the United States as just one example of the relationship's strength.