Iraqi FM in Moscow; Poll: Americans back attack on Iraq if it gets international support
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri arrived in Moscow on Monday as part of Baghdad's attempts to build up international support against a possible U.S. military attack.
Interfax news agency said Sabri would discuss Iraq's situation as well as bilateral cooperation during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. A Russian Foreign Ministry source told the Russian news agency that the two officials had no plans to discuss a $40 billion cooperation program which Baghdad's ambassador last month said was close to signature.
"The Russian side sees an exclusively political-diplomatic path to resolving the Iraqi problem, in line with the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions," Interfax quoted the ministry source as saying.
Sabri is projected to head to Cairo after Moscow to lead his country's delegation at a meeting of Arab foreign ministers due to start there on Wednesday, an Iraqi Foreign Ministry source told Reuters.
Meanwhile, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz told CNN on Sunday that U.S. allegations that Baghdad was producing weapons of mass destruction were baseless.
Iraq is not working to obtain nuclear weapons, Aziz said. "We are not working on this. The United States have provided no evidence to support the allegations."
Additionally, Aziz insisted Baghdad has no links with Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network. "We don't have any relationship with al-Qaeda," Aziz said. "They are not in a part of Iraq which is under our control.
"I made it clear tens of times, hundreds of times that our political system, our political ideology is against the ideology and the practices of the Taliban and al-Qaeda group," he said.
Aziz also reiterated that in his opinion, a return of UN weapons inspectors was not the solution. "We have a very bad experience in this matter during the whole '90s, you see. They remained in Iraq, the inspectors remained in Iraq for 7-1/2 years, and they did not report to the Security Council that their job was finished," he conveyed.
"In the end, they were the tool used in order to attack Iraq, as you remember, in December 1998. So we don't want to repeat this episode, which was everlasting and which did not bring any result."
Earlier Sunday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that Bush clearly said he believed weapons inspectors should return to Iraq. "Iraq has been in violation of these many UN resolutions for most of the last 11 or so years," Powell said in a BBC interview. "So as a first step, let's see what the inspectors find, send them back in.
A majority of Americans support military action to oust Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, although most want the United States to gain approval from other countries first, according to a Los Angeles Times poll.
A survey of 1,372 adults nationwide taken last month found that 59 percent of Americans believe the United States should take military action to remove Hussein. Just 29 percent were opposed and 12 percent were unsure.
An even larger majority of 64 percent said they would support a ground attack on Iraq if President Bush decided to launch one, with 28 percent opposed.
However, 61 percent of those who support military action said they believe the United States should attack Iraq only if the international community supports the move. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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