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Russia: Iraq war is last resort

Ivanov addresses the United Nations Security Council on Monday
Ivanov addresses the United Nations Security Council on Monday

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MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Russia has said it will not back a unilateral military operation against Iraq, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on Tuesday at a press conference: "Force must be used only when all other resources have been tapped.

"The potential for settlement has not been exhausted yet."

Most U.N. Security Council members support diplomatic and peaceful means for settling the Iraqi problem, he said.

"Russia, like many other members of the Security Council, believes the inspectors must continue their work in Iraq and establish whether or not Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.

"If such weapons are found, the inspectors must document their elimination," said Ivanov.

Hans Blix, the head of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, is scheduled to present his report on inspections' progress on January 27, the conclusion of 60 days of renewed searches.

While the United States and Great Britain are urging the United Nations to stand firm against Iraq, other Security Council members are sounding a more cautious note.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin warned against moving forward "in impatience over the situation in Iraq, to move forward toward military intervention."

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan told reporters the council should respect Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei and support their work.

And German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer warned that war on Iraq could fuel more terrorism.

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