Moscow, 14 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russia's opposition-dominated Duma approved a resolution today supporting Iraq in its standoff with the United Nations. Hours later, Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said he saw no need to resort to force to resolve the dispute over Iraq's expulsion of American weapons inspectors.
Itar-Tass quoted Sergeyev as saying that there is "enough sober-mindedness around" to resolve the situation in Iraq without military intervention.
The Duma (lower house of parliament) passed a resolution saying Iraq had fulfilled practically all the U.N. resolutions and was meeting its obligations to destroy illegal weapons. It urged President Boris Yeltsin to push for aid flights to evacuate sick children.
Calling on Yeltsin to prod the Security Council on lifting U.N. sanctions on Iraq, the Duma statement, which has no binding force, urged him to avoid force in resolving the crisis.
Meanwhile, the United States and Britain have proclaimed a united front against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in a U.N. confrontation over weapons inspections.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook met in Edinburgh, Scotland, today. Albright said after the 45-minute session that they had discussed ways to put pressure on Baghdad. She said Iraq has to realise that "there was no salvation in defiance."
Iraq expelled U.S. arms monitors on the U.N. disarmament teams yesterday, prompting the United Nations to pull out most of its inspectors.
Albright noted that Britain had taken steps to beef up its military force to pressure Saddam. Britain's aircraft carrier HMS Invincible is moving closer to the region. Britain also announced it is putting a squadron of warplanes on a heightened alert.