UN council closer on Iraq resolution - Moscow


Russia's foreign minister today said the positions of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council on an Iraq resolution had come significantly closer.

Russia, France and China oppose a toughly worded US proposal that Iraq rid itself of weapons of mass destruction or face dire consequences.

They want to ensure that Iraq is given a chance to cooperate with UN arms inspectors before any military action is authorised.

Mr Igor Ivanov, Moscow's foreign minister, said today Russia continued to insist the draft resolution give no one the right to use force.

"In the last few days we have succeeded in bringing the approaches of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council . . . closer," Mr Ivanov told Russia's Interfax news agency.

"We have converged on a whole series of positions," he said. "We insist that in case problems come up with the inspectors' activity and Iraq violates the UN Security Council's decisions, this question be returned to the Security Council and be carefully examined there, in order to decide on how to proceed further".

The Security Council got the US draft on October 23rd and the members have spent the three sessions since then going over it line by line and suggesting changes.

In an effort to win support, Washington signalled its readiness this week to make some minor concessions involving a new weapons inspection regime. But it has yet to find a solution to the critical issue of the automatic use of force.