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Russian Foreign Ministry: US Action in Iraq May Harm Anti-Terrorism Coalition - 21 March, 2003

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov believes that the US' actions could cause a split in the international anti-terrorism coalition. He expressed this opinion today in an interview with journalists at the State Duma. 'Today extremist organisations inclined towards terrorism are watching with interest to see how the international community reacts to events in Iraq,' said Ivanov. 'If the differences in opinion that appeared during discussions on Iraq are not overcome, this will have a negative effect on the efforts of the whole anti-terrorist coalition and will play into the hands of extremists.'

Ivanov said that the Foreign Ministry is currently holding active consultations with the foreign ministries of all countries opposed to military aggression by the US and UK against Iraq. 'Our aim is to achieve a swift end to military action and a return to attempts to resolve the problem of Iraq by legal, political means,' stressed the minister. 'It is necessary to persuade Washington that this war will be followed by serious consequences for the whole world and, above all, for the US itself.' Commenting on Russia's possible reaction to the request from the US State Department to cut off diplomatic relations with Iraq, Ivanov said 'if such a request was made, it would have no legal force and our reaction would in line with this.'

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