Russian foreign minister says security in Iraq not improving

Russia's foreign minister said Monday that security in Iraq is not improving and expressed hope that an international conference this week will bring change, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

After the conference Wednesday in Brussels, "there is a chance that the level of security, which is not improving, will increase," Sergei Lavrov told President Vladimir Putin, according to ITAR-Tass.

Lavrov said the final document from the conference, which will bring together European, U.N., U.S. and Mideast officials, "will broaden the support of the world community for a settlement in Iraq."

Russia is among the countries drafting the final document, which is nearly ready, ITAR-Tass quoted Lavrov as saying. He said it was "aimed at strengthening the foundation of the political process by including all forces in Iraqi society _ ethnic, religious and political."

He said it would emphasize the importance of stepping up the role of the United Nations, particularly in creating an Iraqi constitution that is to be put to a vote later this year.

Russia sharply opposed the invasion of Iraq and has expressed concern over the continuing violence. Moscow has also stressed that the United Nations must play a central role in resolving international crises.

During a Cabinet meeting, Lavrov also told Putin he plans to meet in London this week with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the agency reported.

Associated Press

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