The settlement of the situation around Iraq will be central to the forthcoming London talks between Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Jack Straw.
As official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko said in a RIA Novosti interview on the eve of the visit, Russia considers it important to avert a new conflict in the Mideast and is ready to use its diplomatic arsenal to settle the critical situation peacefully and politically.
Moscow proceeds here from the assumption that "the differences on the Iraqi problem between Moscow and London should not be an obstacle in the search of common points and ways to draw the positions of our countries closer." Moscow adheres to the position that the situation around Iraq must be settled peacefully, in a diplomatic way. Russia believes that Iraq must be disarmed with the help of weapons inspectors who have to be given time to accomplish the tasks set by Resolution 1441 of the United Nations Security Council.
London, on the other hand, in the person of Prime Minister Tony Blair, comes out for military action in solving the Iraqi problem.
The meeting between the Russian Foreign Minister and the British Foreign Secretary will take place in a hard time for the UK Cabinet, given the split in the British parliament. Last week, nearly 200 British parliamentarians came out against the military plans of the Tony Blair government, concerning Iraq, when the Cabinet submitted to the House of Commons a resolution asking the parliamentarians to support its strategy with regard to Iraq.
The present British Labour government of Tony Blair has taken the course towards the policy pursued by the extremely conservative, in its views, Republican Party of the United States. At the same time, judging by the latest events, the British leadership has failed to convince the politicians and the public opinion of the country that there is every ground for using arms against Iraq.