Vladimir Putin Assures He Will Do His Best to Keep Russia Away from Iraqi Crisis

Vladimir Putin has assured he will do everything possible to prevent Russia from getting involved in the Iraqi crisis.

"Russia has avoided being drawn into many crises and conflicts in the past. And I will do everything it takes to prevent Russia this time, too, from being drawn into the Iraqi crisis in any from," said the President of Russia, addressing reporters during his meeting on Thursday with well-known children's doctor Leonid Roshal.

The President underscored that Russia's approaches to the Iraqi crisis had not changed - such situations must be settled through the United Nations.

Today's developments, Putin believes, confirm the correctness of Russia's position.

As to the emotional reaction of some people to the crisis in Iraq, "I partly understand and share these emotions," especially "after television reports about what is going on" in the area of hostilities.

"At the same time, I think that emotions are a bad adviser in decision-making," added the President.

Vladimir Putin also laid out economic considerations behind Russia's opposition to a moral and political defeat of the United States.

The President said to RIA Novosti, the United States is the biggest economic partner of Russia. Our trade with it in 2002 reached 9.2 billion dollars, and in 2003 it is nearing already 10 billion dollars. The economy and the currency of the USA have a global character, the development of the economy in Europe and in Russia depends on their development, said the head of state.

According to him, the lowering dollar exchange rate will directly affect Europe and Russia.

At the present time, the reserves of the Russian Central Bank have reached a record sum of 55.5 billion dollars. If the dollar exchange rate falls, the Central Bank will sustain direct losses, and this will inevitably tell on the savings of Russian citizens, pointed out Vladimir Putin.

The President confirmed that Russia had co-operated and would co-operate with the United States.

Vladimir Putin said that today Russia and the USA are the biggest nuclear powers, and they are responsible for stability.

The President of Russia said, "we must jointly solve the problem of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery." The President called this problem "the problem of the 21st century." Apart from that, said Vladimir Putin, another problem which must be jointly tackled is the fight against international terrorism. According to him, a stable co-operation has been established between Russia and the United States in this effort, and we shall further develop this co-operation.

Among other aspects of the developing bilateral relations between Russia and the USA, Vladimir Putin singled out co-operation within international organisations. He said Russia was interested in the development of such co-operation.

According to the Russian leader, we intend to build our bilateral relations with the USA, proceeding from the general principles of Russia's foreign policy and the need to strengthen the international legal base and institutions of international security led by the United Nations.

"As to the Iraqi crisis, the former and the latter are apparently in contradiction, though in the final count, the principled work in these areas has some prospects, because not only Russia but also the majority of other countries are interested in such a foreign policy architecture. And this is equally advantageous for the United States as well," said Vladimir Putin.

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