During their telephone conversation yesterday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Russia's foreign minister Igor Ivanov agreed to instruct the US and Russian permanent representatives at the United Nations to meet in order to "search for a compromise" on Iraq. Powell said this later in an interview to Larry King, a well-known CNN anchorman. The US Secretary of State also noted that twice over the past five days he had telephone talks with Russia's foreign minister Igor Ivanov. In Colin Powell's words, UN sanctions against Iraq expire at the end of the month, so they are discussing with Ivanov the UN further actions on this issue. Admitting that Iraq is a "difficult problem", Colin Powell said that Russia has some objections against US proposals. Both sides are now working to find a mutually acceptable solution, Powell noted in conclusion.
Several years ago, a prominent Indonesian businessman who now resides in Canada, insisted on meeting me in a back room of one of Jakarta's posh restaurants. An avid reader of mine, he 'had something urgent to tell me', after finding out that our paths were going to be crossing in this destroyed and hopelessly polluted Indonesian capital.