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Russia: Moscow Reiterates Opposition To U.S. Strike On Iraq

Moscow, 2 September 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri today met with his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov as part of Iraq's efforts to rally international support against a possible U.S. military strike. Following the talks, the Interfax news agency quoted Ivanov as reiterating Russia's opposition to a war in Iraq, saying that any use of force against Iraq would complicate a settlement there and undermine stability in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.

Ivanov also called on Iraq to readmit international weapons inspectors, noting that this is a precondition for the lifting of UN sanctions on Iraqi trade.

In Baghdad today, the deputy speaker of Iraq's parliament, Hamed Rasheed al-Rawi, said that Iraq will host a meeting of the Arab Parliamentary Union starting tomorrow. The union groups parliamentarians from 18 Arab states. Al-Rawi said the delegates will work towards "a unified stance against American threats of aggression."

Meanwhile, Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry has drawn up an agreement for Iran to return spent nuclear fuel from the Russian-built nuclear power plant now under construction in Bushehr.

The Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Valerii Lebedev as saying that Russia will strictly adhere to the principles of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency's regulations require spent nuclear fuel to be returned to the country supplying the fuel.

The ministry noted that spent fuel will be held in a cooling tank at the Iranian plant for three years before it can be transported back to Russia.

Russia is constructing Iran's first nuclear power plant over objections from the United States, which claims nuclear power technology could assist Iran's weapons programs.

Some 600 Russian specialists are now starting major assembly work at the site.