U.S., Russia discuss Iraq; Blix heads to Moscow; Iran: No agreement to provide US troops with two military bases
Undersecretary of State John Bolton discussed with Russian officials in Moscow Monday the situation in Iraq and other U.S.-Russian strategic security issues.
A top Russian diplomat warned Moscow would be against any U.S. draft resolution permitting "automatic use of force" or putting "unfeasible" demands on Baghdad.
Meanwhile, Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix was scheduled to visit Moscow Tuesday to confer on the draft U.N. resolution on Iraq, the Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov as saying.
Fedotov reaffirmed Moscow's stance against any resolutions by the U.N. Security Council that "contain provisions authorizing the automatic use of force against Iraq or unfeasible requirements (for Baghdad), which might lead to new crises and tensions in the country rather than contribute to the return of weapons inspectors," Interfax said.
According to Fedotov, the United States was projected to submit a new draft resolution within the next few days. "In fact, this document is a result of joint efforts," which should take into account the positions of France and Russia, he said.
Also on Monday, Iran has denied reports that it had agreed during British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's recent visit to Tehran to provide US troops with two military bases inside its territory in the event of any US attack on Iraq.
Addressing his weekly press conference Monday morning, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi termed such reports as "sheer lies," noting that this would basically contradict Tehran's policies. "Any such move from the Islamic republic is totally rejected, and that it flies in the face of Iran's declared policies and the principles governing Iranian diplomacy," Asefi aired.
On his part, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Monday that if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein uses non-conventional weapons against Israel and there are civilian casualties, then he will order a retaliatory strike.
The Israeli leader made these comments in an interview with The New York Time published on Monday. "Israel is not interested in being involved in a campaign against Iraq. We'll support America's decision and will show sensitivity to US needs by exercising maximum restraint," Sharon told the daily.
"At the same time, if our citizens are attacked seriously - by weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological or by some mega-terror act - and suffer casualties, then Israel will respond," Sharon said. (Albawaba.com)
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