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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-314187 Russia / Foreign Policy (L-O)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=3/17/2004

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=RUSSIA / FOREIGN POLICY (L-ONLY)

NUMBER=2-314187

BYLINE=LISA MCADAMS

DATELINE=MOSCOW

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: Russia's new foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, says Russia and the United States will continue to be what he called strategic partners. But in his first news conference since taking office he was also sharply critical of U-S policy on Iraq. V-O-A's Lisa McAdams in Moscow reports.

TEXT: Foreign Minister Lavrov said Iraq's security situation is getting worse and that Russia continues to believe the United Nations should play the central role in restoring order and rebuilding the country.

Mr. Lavrov also said he does not believe U-S statements about the status of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He says American claims that ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein deceived the United Nations until his last day in office are, in his words, unfounded.

/// LAVROV ACTUALITY IN RUSSIAN - ESTABLISH & FADE UNDER ///

Mr. Lavrov said he would like to see the facts.

He also reiterated Russia's view that the United States has not presented any proof regarding its recent claims that Russia sold weapons that ended up in Iraq.

Russia was one of the most outspoken critics of last year's war in Iraq. That criticism was often expressed by Mr. Lavrov personally in the job he held until recently as Russia's ambassador to the United Nations.

But on other issues facing Russia and the United States, Mr. Lavrov was more conciliatory. He said the two nations' presidents have forged a strategic partnership, which includes a common vision on security.

/// 2nd LAVROV ACTUALITY IN RUSSIAN - ESTABLISH & FADE UNDER ///

Mr. Lavrov said almost nothing divides Russia from the United States in terms of the strategic goals they share for ensuring global peace and stability. He said that while the two sides may not always agree on the methods to achieve those goals, differences between partners are natural.

Another area in which Washington has looked to Russia for help has been in getting Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency about its nuclear program. Mr. Lavrov said Wednesday Moscow agrees Iran needs to increase its cooperation in order to put to rest any concerns that the program could be used to produce nuclear weapons. (Signed)

NEB/LAM/AWP/RH/FC



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