Russian President to U.S.: Don’t Attack Iraq; Iraqi VP: Coup In Military “Impossible”
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned against possible U.S. military operations against Iraq, claiming that the situation in this Arab nation was different from the one in Afghanistan and that only the U.N. Security Council could sanction any attack.
In an interview published Monday in The Wall Street Journal, the Russian President termed Moscow’s partnership with Washington the key to stability throughout the world. The two powers have reached a "new level of trust," he was quoted as saying.
"This trust allows us, despite any differences or arguments on specific issues, to avoid confrontation," Putin expressed.
Putin was the first world leader to express condolences to US President Bush following the September 11 terror attacks, which shocked the United States, and he has been an enthusiastic supporter of the U.S.-led anti-terrorism war in Afghanistan.
However, at the same time, Russia is Iraq's closest ally in the United Nations Security Council, and Moscow has repeatedly tried to put a halt on the U.N. sanctions, which were imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and protested U.S. and British air strikes on Iraq.
In the interview, Putin opposed Bush's inclusion of Iraq, Iran and North Korea in what the American leader termed an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union address before Congress at the end of January.
Numerous U.S. officials have stated that Baghdad could possibly be next on the list of countries to be attacked in the framework of the anti-terrorism global campaign.
"We oppose the drawing up of black lists," Putin stated. He admitted that Iraq presented a "problem," but added, "Such problems cannot be solved by one country alone."
Meanwhile, Baghdad is planning to intensify its air defense capabilities to thwart any possible outside threats, the Iraqi vice president was quoted as saying Monday, according to DPA.
Iraq's satellite channel reported that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein chaired a meeting on Sunday night, comprised of his commanders to discuss strengthening Iraq's air defense forces.
Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said the move would help confront "the evil aggressors and their designs and shameless threats no matter what."
Ramadan stated it is significant to solidify Arab unity at the upcoming summit in Beirut, which is scheduled to take place this March. He described the summit as "being one of the important means of confronting the American Zionist threats against the Arab world."
Threats from the United States have become clear and this ought to make Arab leaders achieve the minimum of solidarity, Ramadan said, "America has revealed its intentions in its traditional and grand hostility towards the Arabs and Muslims in particular".
However, Qatar-based satellite television Al Jazeera said Ramadan also reiterated Baghdad's readiness to renew "useful and positive dialogue" with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the UN without preconditions, "in order to work for the return of the arms inspectors to Iraq."
"The ball is now in the court of the UN," Ramadan remarked.
He also said orchestrating a coup within Iraq's army is "impossible" for several reasons. "I personally think there is no possibility for [successfully] waging a military coup in Iraq." (Albawaba.com)
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