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Russian Govt Meets Brit Foreign Minister Straw

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov Meets with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw

The Iraq problem was the focus of discussion in the conversation held in Brussels on April 3 between Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Igor Ivanov and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. As to the two countries' assessments of what is happening in Iraq, they are well known. Russia expresses profound concern over the situation obtaining, especially its humanitarian aspects. It is abundantly clear that the longer the hostilities continue, the graver their consequences will be.

This is why the most important thing now is to try to stop the war as soon as possible and to get back onto the track for a political settlement of the Iraq problem on the basis of international law and within the framework of the UN Security Council.

At the same time, today's discussion showed that Russia and Britain also have definite points of contact, in particular, on the question of the UN role in resolving the situation around Iraq. The sides expressed satisfaction at the fact that it had been possible to agree in the UN Security Council regarding the resumption of the Oil for Food program, as well as to adopt Resolution 1472 reaffirming the principles of international humanitarian law.

The ministers agreed to continue contacts on the Iraq problem on a bilateral and multilateral basis.

The problem of Middle East settlement was touched upon. Russia and Britain favor the speediest possible renewal of a settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and proceed from the necessity of launching without delay the appropriate Road Map, drafted by the Quartet of international mediators consisting of Russia, the US, EU and UN.

Questions of bilateral relations were also touched on. The ministers expressed common opinion about the importance of preserving and building up in today's not easy situation the potential for cooperation in various fields. In this context they discussed the course of the preparation for the upcoming state visit to be paid by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to Britain this June. Active work is under way on the contents side of the visit so that it confirms the new quality of the relationship between the two countries. Ivanov and Straw stated with satisfaction the growth currently observable in commercial and economic relations and the expected flow of British investments into the oil and gas sector of Russia.

By and large a constructive conversation took place between the ministers, bearing out once more the value of our partner relations, which make it possible to conduct a substantive dialogue and openly set forth our points of view on all questions of interest to us.

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