Russian foreign minister wants to see timeframe for Iraq troop withdrawal


SANAA, June 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that a definite timeframe for withdrawing foreign troops from Iraq could prompt the country's national reconciliation. "The presence of foreign troops in Iraq is known - and this is no secret - to cause controversy in Iraqi society," Lavrov told the 32nd conference of the foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Yemen's capital, Saana. "And national reconciliation can be achieved by clearly determining the prospects for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq."

The minister stressed that an objective analysis of the Iraqi experience could not only help revive Iraq, but could also be useful to work out a correct strategy for the development of the Middle East and North Africa on the basis of mutual respect and regard for the interests of the region's countries, and with the support of G8 states and other European, American and Asian countries.

Lavrov said history proved that it was impossible to import democracy into a country even if the intentions were good. The minister added he considered such attempts to be unlawful and extremely dangerous, as well as futile. He said they were fraught with the danger of destabilization and new conflicts.

He said that fundamental democratic values were inherently universal, but they should be applied in different ways with consideration for culture, traditions, history and national specifics.

Lavrov called on the world community to create a collective mechanism for coordinating efforts to support the political process in Iraq under the aegis of the UN.

He said Russia's position remained the same: "We think that the war in Iraq was a mistake."

The Russian diplomat also said terrorists were using the differences over the Iraq problem to realign their forces for new operations. "This is a serious lesson for all of us. Now we must encourage the Iraqis to determine their future, and the global community, above all the UN, will help them do so," Lavrov said.

"The violence in Iraq causes the deepest concerns. We are certain the proactive participation of all the main political forces, ethnic groups and faiths is needed to overcome as soon as possible post-war problems and the deep crisis that hit the country more than two years ago," the Russian foreign minister said.

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