Russian Ambassador at Large Nikolai Kartuzov arrived in Baghdad Monday for political consultations with Iraqi leaders. The ambassador will also hand over the Russian Defense Minister's message to Iraqi Vice Premier Tariq Aziz. The negotiations will be focused on the situation around Iraq in the context of the United Nations Security Council discussing the issue of extending the oil for food programme or introducing the so-called "smart sanctions." Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said Sunday that Iraq would quit the oil for food programme in case any amendments unacceptable for Iraq would be introduced "under pressure by a third country." Russia's position on the problem is of extreme importance to Iraq. Using its veto right, Moscow banned the smart sanctions resolution in the Security Council five months ago. After the three-day visit to Iraq is over, Kartuzov will go to Jordan and Egypt.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea
President Vladimir Putin has not released an official statement yet about his position on the issue of the pension reform in Russia