The recent outburst of violence in Kosovo and the post-Saddam rebuilding of Iraq are expected to dominate the agenda of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's forthcoming talks with Russian government officials in Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov revealed in a RIA interview Wednesday. Annan's visit to the Russian capital is scheduled for April 4 through 6, he said.
"We have familiarized ourselves with the Secretary General's recommendations concerning the conditions under which the UN could return to Iraq and [resume its] work there," Fedotov explained. "One of the principled issues will be the character of the government to be formed in Iraq in the transition period after June 30 [that is, the date set for the handover of power to an interim administration]." "There's no clarity on that so far, but we expect the upcoming conversation with Kofi Annan to help [us] work out a common approach to the issue," the senior Russian diplomat said.
Speaking of the possible involvement of Russia and Russian companies in the post-war reconstruction of Iraq, Fedotov expressed hope that Russia would be playing a prominent role in the new Iraq, including in such areas as economics and trade.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building