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Putin, Schroeder Want Iraq Crisis Solved Peacefully - 2003-02-09


Russia's President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder have renewed their call for a peaceful resolution to the crisis over Iraq.

Speaking to reporters after meeting in Berlin today (Sunday), the two leaders said U-N weapons inspectors in Iraq should be given more time to carry out their work.

Mr. Putin said the countries are convinced that unilateral military action against Iraq would cause huge casualties and increase tensions across the Middle East.

Earlier, U-S Secretary of State Colin Powell dismissed a new French and German proposal to extend and expand the weapons inspection program in Iraq. The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel says the plan calls for the deployment of U-N troops throughout Iraq to enforce long-term weapons inspections by a greatly enlarged team of U-N experts.

Speaking on U-S Sunday talk shows, Mr. Powell said increasing the number of inspectors would not deal with what he called the real issue, Iraqi non-compliance with U-N resolution 14-41, which demands that Iraq disarm.

He said the United States would listen to a new report by the heads of the U-N inspection teams on Friday, but that time is running out for Iraq to comply.

Meanwhile, President Bush has reiterated a warning that the United States and its allies would take action to disarm Saddam Hussein if the Iraq leader does not disarm voluntarily. The president made the remarks Sunday at a gathering of congressional Republicans in West Virginia.

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