Russia silent on charge of Iraq aid


Russian intelligence services refused to comment yesterday on allegations that they gave highly sensitive information to their Iraqi counterparts in the months leading up to war in the Gulf.

Britain's Sunday Telegraph and the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that documents discovered during the mass looting which followed the fall of Baghdad showed that President Saddam Hussein's feared security services had received Russian intelligence and training.

"We do not comment on baseless and unproven claims published in the tabloids," said Mr Boris Labusov, head of the press service of Russia's foreign intelligence service, the SVR.

President Vladimir Putin hosted talks with the leaders of Germany and France on Friday and Saturday, and the three men urged the international community to unite after its recent rift.

"We can rebuild our unity around the values that all great democracies share. This spirit of solidarity and collective responsibility should emerge strengthened from this crisis," said President Jacques Chirac.

But he also challenged leading politicians in Washington who insist the US must take the lead in rebuilding oil-rich Iraq.

"Once the necessary security has been restored, the UN should play a central role in ensuring that Iraq regains its sovereignty and that the Iraqi people recover their dignity and their freedom," said Mr Chirac.