Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov brushed off Friday US criticism of a visit by Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz, saying Moscow would not be lectured about who visits the Russian capital.
"Russia is a sovereign and independent state which chooses on its own who it has relations with and under what circumstances," Ivanov told reporters during a joint press briefing with his guest.
"Russia maintains, and will continue to maintain, an active dialogue with Iraq," he said. Moscow was seeking a political solution to the Iraq issue, he said, urging other UN Security Council members to do the same.
"Unfortunately, while Russia is looking for a political solution to the Iraqi problem, other members of the Security Council have continued to bomb Iraq in breach of the UN Security Council," he said.
The Russian official accused the United States and Britain of "bombing Iraqi territory on an almost daily basis," warning that force served only to complicate the situation.
Britain and the United States say their no-fly zones over north and south Iraq are designed to protect the Kurds and Shiites of Iraq from air attack by Baghdad.
For his part Aziz attacked the United States for "using their arms to carry out aggression and try to restart conflicts in the region."
Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has consistently condemned the no-fly zones and the international sanctions imposed on Baghdad following the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait - MOSCOW (AFP)
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