President Putin: Russia and France Insist on Finding a Political Solution to Iraq Crisis

'Russia and France are insisting that a political solution must be found to the Iraq crisis,' Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Monday, February 10, in Paris after talks with French President Jacques Chirac. According to Mr Putin's press office, the Russian president said that both Russia and France have a 'clear and moral policy' aimed at exposing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but without bringing any harm to the Iraqi population and without breaking international law.

Attempts to resolve the Iraqi crisis by force could simply make the situation worse, Mr Putin said. Any steps taken with regard to Iraq must be based on UN Security Council decisions. Russia is willing to provide aviation in order to carry out inspections.

Mr Putin added that the divergence of opinions among European countries on the Iraqi question should not be dramatized. Besides, the majority of UN security council members support the position held by France and Russia.

The situation in Iraq was one of the main topics of discussion during the meeting of the two presidents at the Elysee Palace. As partners in the antiterrorist coalition Russia and France are working together to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Both parties called for a common international policy on this problem and insisted that refusal to comply with international policy on the spread of such weapons must not be tolerated.

The two presidents both commented on the feeling of mutual trust at the meeting. 'Russia and France intend to work together as they have always done,' they said.

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