Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and Chairman of the Federation Council's international affairs committee Mikhail Mareglov has told RIA Novosti that he does not believe Russo-US relations have suffered as a result of the Iraqi crisis. He is currently taking part in a PACE mini-session in Berlin.
The Russian senator said, "very intensive exchanges at the governmental level" were being held as before, while contacts between the Russian and American security councils and secret services were continuing. Margelov also announced that complete agreement had been reached on the text for an agreement on co-operation between the US and Russian Senates. This will be the first such agreement in history and the only matter still being discussed is where to sign it, i.e. in Washington or Moscow.
The head of the Russian parliamentary delegation believes that Russia managed to come out of the "hot phase" of the Iraqi crisis with the fewest possible losses in relations with both its Western and Eastern partners. He said that the majority of countries had been on the side of France, Germany and Russia.
Margelov said that the three countries had shown how they had tried to find a solution to an international conflict outside the bloc system. "In conditions, when there was no unity on the issue inside Nato, Russia, France and Germany tried to create a certain new extra-bloc mechanism for consultation and discussion of the crisis," he said. "This was not an attempt to create a union against the USA, against Great Britain or other countries," he stressed.
Russia's position was in no way to defend Saddam Hussein's regime, the senator emphasised. "Paraphrasing a famous declaration from our past, one can say that 'Saddams come and go, but the Iraqi people will stay," Mareglov said.
"All these new moments allow one to talk about the fact that consultation systems in crisis periods need to be modified, in all the international organisations that formed in the Cold War years," the Russian senator concluded.