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Russian Foreign Minister: Iraq Crisis Can Still Be Addressed by Political Means - 26 March, 2003

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov believes that it is still possible to return to political attempts to find a solution to the Iraq crisis. Ivanov made this announcement today at a session of the Federation Council. According to the UN Security Council, Ivanov said, international inspections in Iraq have not been ended, but merely temporarily halted. If necessary, they could be resumed. 'Only the inspectors can answer the question of whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Declarations by the US or British leadership are not enough,' the minister stressed.

Ivanov believes it is significant that even supporters of military action have expressed their readiness to return to the UN Security Council to resolve the issue of the post-war reconstruction of Iraq. 'At the last minute the US and their allies are trying to find legal justification for their military operation, including with UN help. This attempt will fail.'

The Foreign Minister also considers US requests to European countries to cut off diplomatic relations with Iraq and freeze Iraqi government accounts unjustified. 'We have asked the US State Department what the legal grounds for this are, but we haven't received any reply,' said Ivanov.

Nevertheless, the minister said that disagreements with the US over Iraq should not cast any doubt over the positive prospects for developing Russian-US relations. 'These relations have their own significance as a factor in global security and international stability, ' stressed Ivanov.

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