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Russia: Powell Says Iraq's Debt To Moscow Will Be 'Taken Into Account'

Moscow, 15 May 2003 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said he is certain the future government of Iraq will honor the country's debt obligation to Russia. Powell was speaking this morning in an interview on Ekho Moskvy radio, at the end of his visit to the Russian capital. Powell said the United States estimates Iraq's total foreign debt to be between $100 billion and $120 billion. He said some of that debt will have to be refinanced or rescheduled but he said the new Iraqi government, when it comes into office, will "take into account" its debt obligations to Moscow.

Iraq owes Russia some $16 billion, including interest -- mostly left over from Soviet days.

Powell, who met for talks yesterday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, said the United States and Russia have not yet found agreement over a U.S. proposal to end UN sanctions on Iraq.