Putin, Chirac Discuss Situation Around Iraq Over the Phone

President Jacques Chirac of France and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation talked to each other over the phone in the evening of January 24, discussing the Iraqi problem, as well as Putin's forthcoming French visit.

According to the Elysees Palace's official spokesperson Madame Catherine Colonna, the 25-minute phone conversation took place on Chirac's initiative, making it possible to state the considerable similarity of French and Russian positions.

In her words, the President of France outlined the French position on the Iraqi issue. Chirac believes that current international efforts essentially aim to disarm Iraq; the search for the best ways of attaining this goal is the main issue, Colonna added.

The UN Security Council's resolution No. 1441 enabled UN inspectors, who had left Iraq four years ago, to return to that country. One should not pretend that the inspectors are not doing their business; they alone can say whether they have accomplished their mission, or not, Colonna noted.

France and Russia would be quite interested to hear the report of the top officials of the inspectors' group at the UNSC's January 27 session, Colonna went on to say.

For his own part, President Putin voiced his opinion of the situation, also speaking about his latest contact with the President of the United States.

Moreover, both leaders discussed Putin's forthcoming French visit, also agreeing to maintain permanent contacts, Colonna noted in conclusion.