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    SPEAKER OF RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT CALSL FOR INTENATIONAL CONFERENCE ON IRAQ

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    MOSCOW, April 13 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian nationals taken hostage in Iraq last night have been released thanks to Russia's consistent opposition to the U.S. - led war in that country, argues Sergei Mironov, Speaker of the Federation Council (the upper house of parliament).

    "Judging from media reports, our hostages were set free as soon as their nationality had been identified. This happened for one simple reason-Russia has all along been a principled opponent to the use of force in Iraq and the deployment of troops there," Mironov said. He also expressed his personal support for the federal government's current steps to ensure Russian nationals' security in Iraq. He hailed the decision to take Russian personnel "out of the harm's way," arguing that if the situation on the ground gets too hot, Iraqi insurgents won't bother to identify the nationality of their hostages.

    The Russian Speaker also called for an international conference on Iraq, one that would bring together representatives of all of that country's political forces.

    The greater the involvement of the global community, primarily via the UN, the better the prospects for Iraq and the United States, Mironov emphasized.

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