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    FRANCE AND RUSSIA CALL FOR AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON IRAQ

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    MOSCOW, January 23, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Sergey Zelentsov). French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin announced at a lecture to students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) that France and Russia are lobbying for an international conference on Iraq.

    The French foreign minister believes that such a conference should determine the role of Iraq in the region.

    According to Mr. de Villepin, Russia and France share a common aspiration to begin the political process that could resolve the situation in Iraq.

    The foreign minister noted that the foundation for this process had been lain in UN Resolution 1511 and in an agreement between coalition forces and the provisional ruling council of Iraq.

    In addition, Mr. de Villepin noted that it is of the essence to take into account the issues of a security structure, the war on terrorism and the dissemination of weapons of mass destruction.

    Mr. de Villepin said that France is ready to increase its participation in the security forces in Iraq, but only after June 30, the date on which the Iraqi sovereign leadership is to be elected.

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