Russia opposes military action against Iraq
Dispute over U.N. weapons inspectors
October 31, 1997
Web posted at: 1:27 p.m. EST (1827 GMT)
CAIRO, Egypt (CNN) -- Russia's foreign minister condemned
Iraq Friday for its defiance of the U.N. Security Council,
but said Western countries should not take military action
against the Arab nation in the dispute over weapons inspections.
"We are against any use of force," Foreign Minister Yevgeny
Primakov said at a news conference in Cairo. "I speak about
this now because some voices have appealed, in particular the
United Kingdom, in favor of the use of force against Iraq. We
will strongly object to it."
"As for the developments in Iraq, we feel very much
concerned. We do not think the decision taken by Baghdad
recently is the best possible decision," he added.
Primakov made his comments a day after speaking with U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on this week's
developments in Iraq.
On Thursday, Iraq refused to allow two American members of
the United Nations weapons inspection team to enter the country. A day earlier, Iraq ordered American U.N. inspectors to leave the country within a week -- a move that prompted the United States to warn of "serious consequences" if Iraq does not back down.
Iraq, meanwhile, showed no signs of backing down Friday,
saying the country was forced to take such action.
"Iraq has no alternative to come out of this dark tunnel
which the United States has put Iraq in," read a front-page
editorial in Al-Thawra, the official newspaper of the ruling
Security Council to discuss issue Friday
The 15-member Security Council planned to meet Friday to try
to devise a response to the Iraqi challenge. Russia, France
and China have long opposed efforts to tighten sanctions for
Iraq's failure to cooperate with U.N. inspectors.
But at the news conference Friday, Primakov criticized Iraq,
urging Hussein to "heed the opinion of its friends and change
"We think the decision by Baghdad is very, very serious and
has put us in a very difficult situation," Primakov said.
Asked if he would travel to Baghdad to mediate, Primakov
said, "If I receive instructions from the president, I will
During the 1991 Gulf War, Primakov traveled to Baghdad as a
Soviet envoy in an unsuccessful attempt to mediate with
President Hussein after the fighting had begun.
On Thursday, Britain and the United States said military
action against Iraq could not be ruled out. Washington also
condemned Baghdad for turning away the two inspectors.
U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin, asked if a
military response was a possibility, said, "We are not ruling
any option out at this time."
The 40 U.N. inspectors in Iraq -- 10 of whom are American --
are charged with the dismantling of Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction and the programs needed to build them.
The U.N. Security Council has said it will not lift economic
sanctions, including a near-total oil embargo, until the
inspectors certify Iraq's full compliance.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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