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Igor Ivanov and Prime Minister of Lebanon to Discuss Iraqi Crisis and Situation in the Middle East - 28 March, 2003

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov will discuss the Iraqi crisis and the situation in the Middle East with Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri at their negotiations in Moscow.

Last night, the Lebanese prime minister arrived in Moscow on a short working visit. Rafiq Hariri is making his trip to the Russian capital in the context of his European tour during which he has already visited Athens, Brussels, Berlin and Paris.

At a joint news conference with the leaders of Germany, the Lebanese prime minister spoke out unequivocally against the military actions in Iraq because, according to him, these actions only deteriorate the crisis.

At their negotiations in Paris on Thursday, French President Jacque Chirac and Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri came out in favour of the "central role" of the United Nations in the post-war settlement in Iraq.

The negotiations between the Lebanese prime minister and the Russian minister of foreign affairs are also expected to be held in this key.

According to the data at the disposal of RIA Novosti, apart from the Iraqi problem, the sides intend to discuss the problems of the Middle East settlement, and the Lebanese aspect of it.

Russia favours further stabilisation of the situation in the south of Lebanon, including with the participation of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The previous visit by Rafiq Hariri to Moscow took place on October 31 - November 3, 2001. During that visit the Lebanese prime minister met in the Russian capital a number of political, economic and religious leaders of Russia, including the president, the prime minister and the minister of foreign affairs.

Directly on the eve of his present visit to Europe, Rafiq Hariri met the ambassador of the Russian Federation to Lebanon, Boris Bolotin.

The Russian diplomat informed the head of the Lebanese government of Russia's position on the latest events in the region and called for stopping the military operation against Iraq. Bolotin also underscored that the Iraqi problem must be solved within the framework of the United Nations and its Security Council.

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