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Russia: Former U.S. Defense Chief Decries Iraq Involvement

Washington, 20 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - Former U.S. Defense Secretary Richard Cheney says he is "not encouraged" by the involvement of Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov in finding a settlement for the current crisis over Iraq.

Cheney was a key member of the administration of former President George Bush which put together and coordinated the coalition of nations which drove Iraq out of Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War and set the United Nations conditions against which Iraq is now fighting.

Cheney told a conference on Caspian Oil pipelines in Washington yesterday that Primakov tried to broker a settlement with Iraq in 1991, but was rejected by the U.S.

"If he had been successful, we would probably still be negotiating about whether the Iraqis would withdraw from Kuwait," he said.

Cheney now heads an international oil equipment company based in Texas. He blamed America's continued insistence on its own sanctions against Iran as a major factor in reducing needed support in the region for joint action against Iraq.