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    MOSCOW SPEAKS FOR SOONEST RESTORATION OF IRAQ SOVEREIGNTY

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    MOSCOW, April 2, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Moscow is interested in the soonest restoration of Iraq's sovereignty with the UN playing a leading and independent role, the Russian foreign ministry information and press department quoted Friday ambassador at large Sergei Kirpichenko, who was on a visit in Baghdad March 29 - April 2, as saying.

    Mr. Kirpichenko met with Massoud Barzani, the chairman of Iraq's Interim Governing Council, and council members Abdel Aziz al Hakim and Jalal Talabani.

    The political situation in Iraq and ways of its stabilization were considered.

    The Russian side said it was interested in the soonest formation of power bodies expressing the legal interests of all Iraqis.

    "The readiness to contribute to peaceful settlement of the Iraqi issue, to actively participate in the post-conflict social and economic rehabilitation of the country was voiced," the press and information department said.

    The Iraqi side, in its turn, expressed concern over a high level of the terrorist threat, and confirmed its being interested in the overwhelming settlement in the country.

    Talks' participants from Iraq highly assessed Russia's position. The Iraqi side also emphasized the necessity to guarantee the UN's central role in the process of Iraq's political reconstruction.

    Russo-Iraqi cooperation was discussed at the talks as well.

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