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    RUSSIA FOR UNMOVIC RETURN TO IRAQ

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    MOSCOW, February 3 (RIA Novosti) - Russia deems it important to extend the mandate of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) in Iraq, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said this at a briefing on Tuesday.

    In turn, acting UNMOVIC Chairman Dimitros Perrikos currently on a visit to Moscow stated the Commission's readiness to continue searches in Iraq.

    The situation is still unclear, but no weapons of mass destruction have been found. We are still in discussions over this issue and are preparing to return to Iraq, said Perrikos.

    According to the Russian deputy foreign minister, the fact that David Kay's report coincides with the conclusions UNMOVIC made before the war in Iraq began confirms the accurateness of Russia's position on the issue. (Deputy Chief of the CIA, David Kay, heading a special US commission searching for the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, made a statement last week that WMDs were unlikely to be found in Iraq. He resigned on January 23rd, 2004.) "Russia has always insisted on solving the problem with the help of inspections and not through warfare," said Fedotov.

    He also noted that before the military operation in Iraq, Russia checked the statements about the presence of WMDs in Iraq through its own channels.

    "The conclusion was unambiguous - these statements are unsubstantiated. Russia has come out for giving UNMOVIC and the IAEA the opportunity to finish their work in Iraq, as it was envisaged by the UN Security Council's resolutions," stressed Fedotov.

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