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    RUSSIA READY FOR ACTIVE PARTICIPATION IN IRAQI SETTLEMENT

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    MOSCOW, January 23, 2004. /RIA Novosti correspondent Sergei Zelentsov/. Russia is ready to take a more active part in the Iraqi settlement, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told a press conference in Moscow on Friday following the talks with his French counterpart Dominique de Villepin.

    However, this requires relevant conditions: the full restoration of Iraq's sovereignty and the formation of the independent democratic Iraqi government, the Russian Foreign Minister said.

    "It would let to involve the potential of the UN and the international community in this process," Igor Ivanov added.

    According to him, an international conference on Iraq is highly important in this connection. The conference should consider all aspects of the situation in the country, work out the program of Iraq's recovery and discuss regional stability.

    On his part, Dominique de Villepin believes that a political process "should be launched and consolidated" in Iraq. In addition, the UN needs a possibility to fulfill its functions more fully. The French Foreign Minister proposed to send a special envoy of the UN Secretary General to Iraq. "France is ready to assist the Iraqi settlement, in particular, in economic and security spheres. We are at the disposal of the Iraqi sovereign government which should submit us its concept on these issues," the French minister said.

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