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Russia Calls US Charge Of Helping Iraq Politically-Motivated

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Mar 28, 2006
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday dismissed as politically motivated reports in the United States suggesting that Moscow provided intelligence to Saddam Hussein at the start of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

"The way this was done suggests that there is a political motive here and that this could be connected with the situation in Iraq," Lavrov told reporters, referring to publication by US media of parts of a Pentagon report on Russian intelligence activities during the Iraq war.

Lavrov said he had followed media reports about the Pentagon charge, as well as comments made by various officials regarding those reports.

"I know nothing beyond that because no one among American officials has raised this issue with us," the Russian minister said.

Lavrov's comments came a day after two senior US officials, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, vowed they would take the matter up with Russian officials.

Rice said the US administration needed time to digest a Pentagon report released Friday that charged Russia had given Saddam information on US troop movements after the US-led invasion that led to his ouster three years ago.

"Any implication that there were those from a foreign government who may have been passing information to the Iraqis prior to the invasion would be, of course, very worrying," she told CNN on Sunday.

Earlier Rice had told NBC television's "Meet the Press" program: "We would take very seriously any suggestion that this may have been done, maybe to the detriment of American forces."

"Definitely we will raise it with the Russian government," the chief US diplomat said. "I would hope the Russian government would take it seriously."

The Pentagon report on Russian intelligence activities during the Iraq war comes at a time when Washington and Moscow are at loggerheads over various international issues.

The Russians are opposing US-led moves to seek a strong UN resolution against Iran for its suspected efforts to develop a nuclear bomb.

The two countries also differ on their approach to the new Palestinian government formed by the militant group Hamas and to the authoritarian regime in the former Soviet republic of Belarus.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links

US Presses Moscow On Reports Of Spying For Iraq
Washington (AFP) Mar 28, 2006
The United States pressed Moscow on Monday for an explanation of reports that Russia had given Saddam Hussein intelligence on US troop movements during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Dan Fried, assistant secretary of state for European affairs, spoke to the Russian ambassador here and conveyed a request that Moscow look into the allegations, the State Department said.

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