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U.S.: Bush, Senior Russian Officials Discuss Iraq

Washington, 20 September 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has urged Baghdad to comply with existing United Nations Security Council resolutions but declined to say whether his country would back a U.S. request at the UN to use force against Iraq.

Igor Ivanov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov met with U.S. President George W. Bush at the White House today. Iraq and nuclear-arms reduction were the chief topics of discussion.

Following the meeting, the Russian foreign minister said his country and the United States are in full agreement that UN arms inspectors must return to Iraq. However, he sidestepped a question about whether Russia would back U.S. efforts at the UN Security Council to seek a tough new resolution that would authorize the use of military force. Instead, he said both countries want Iraq to comply with UN resolutions regarding weapons of mass destruction.

Bush also wants U.S. Congress to approve a resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq.

Earlier this week, Iraq said it would agree to the unconditional return of arms inspectors following a four-year absence.