Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has departed for New York.
On Friday, the minister will participate in the UN Security Council session on Iraq. The latter will hear reports of the heads of the UNMOVIC (the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission) and the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, on the inspections.
The chief weapons inspectors will report for the second time to the UN Security Council.
Nine days ago, Igor Ivanov attended the UN Security Council session highlighting the Iraqi issue. Then, on February 5th, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, presented evidence allegedly testifying to Baghdad's possession of weapons of mass destruction and its links to Al-Qaeda.
Colin Powell then argued Baghdad refused to co-operate accordingly with international inspectors and called on the UN Security Council to signal its sharp disapproval.
According to Igor Ivanov, the presented evidence does not prove that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, but only indicate the need to extend the weapons inspections in Iraq.
Upon concluding their visit to Iraq February 8-9, UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix and IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei stated further inspections in Iraq could become a good alternative to a military action.
In their words, the Iraqi side provided additional information on a number of issues dealing with biological, chemical weapons and missiles, and also forwarded to UNMOVIC and IAEA some proposals on ways of checking whether the Iraqis had destroyed their weapons of mass destruction or not.
A number of countries, including Germany and France, come out against the military settlement of the Iraqi problem.
Paris and Berlin are to present an alternative plan of defusing the situation around Iraq to the UN Security Council members Friday.
Besides, Russia, France and Germany have adopted a joint declaration on Iraq. It in particular says UN Security Council Resolution 1441 forms a base for an early disarmament of Iraq, and "provides a framework of which the potential has not yet been fully exploited." "There is still an alternative to war. The use of force can only be considered as a last resort. Russia, Germany and France are determined to ensure that everything possible is done to disarm Iraq peacefully," the trilateral document emphasises.
An unidentified man wielding a knife attacked civilians in the Church of Notre Dame in the French city of Nice. Three people were killed, several others were hospitalised with injuries.One of the victims was beheaded