Washington Demands That Iraqi Diplomats Be Expelled, Russia Asks US for Explanations

Russia asked the US State Department for explanations in connection with a circular, which was sent to the world's countries, and which demands that diplomatic relations with Iraq be suspended. Moreover, all countries of the world would be expected to expel Iraqi diplomats. This was disclosed here today by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, as he addressed a session of the foreign-and-defense policy council.

We have received no answer so far; still we'll examine specific legal grounds, Ivanov added.

Washington's attempts to declare all Iraqi ambassadors persona non grata and to freeze Iraqi accounts at foreign banks are not a mere coincidence, Ivanov stressed.

Everything, which had existed until today, can be declared illegal; this concerns all previously signed contracts; only the documents to be signed with the new Iraqi administration can be called legal, Ivanov noted.

We should be ready for this; moreover, this isn't being done by sheer coincidence, Ivanov told those present.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the other day that the United States had sent a circular to all countries of the world, suggesting that they suspend diplomatic relations with Iraq, and that they expel Iraqi diplomats.